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A New Jersey high school football player dies nearly two weeks after he was ‘critically injured’ in a game, school district says

By Zenebou Sylla, CNN

A high school football player died nearly two weeks after he was “critically injured” during a football game, the Linden, New Jersey, Public School District said in a statement.

Xavier McClain,16, was a sophomore playing for the Linden Tigers varsity boys football team when he suffered a head injury during a game on September 9, Linden Mayor Derek Armstead told CNN.

Xavier’s parents told CNN affiliate WABC-TV they regularly attended their son’s games but missed the one where he was injured — something they say they will have to live with.

“He was in every sport, social, bright, gifted, and talented,” Lisa McClain, the teen’s mother, told the affiliate. “And I’m never going to see him graduate from high school.”

“He was only sixteen, he had his whole life ahead of him,” said his father, Norm McClain, adding that he hopes such an injury does not happen to any other player.

Mayor Armstead said he was close to Xavier’s family, telling CNN his children played with both Xavier and his brother in a basketball league.

In a post on Instagram, Armstead said Xavier “fought a good fight” but ultimately succumbed to the injuries sustained.

“This news hurts because I have known his parents, Lisa and Norm for years, Xavier and Andres, their two sons, since they were little boys,” Armstead said in the post. “Norm and Lisa are devastated. Children are supposed to outlive their parents, not the other way around.”

The school district has set up counseling support for students, staff and families and was continuing to offer “prayers and support” to Xavier’s family, according to their statement.

The district has also planned to hold a moment of silence and a reading about Xavier ahead of Friday’s football game, which was rescheduled from a day earlier to “give the team (an) extra day to come together with their loss,” the statement said.

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