Union County, New Jersey, is in mourning after the area’s second high school football player died in recent weeks. Ali Muhammad and Xavier McClain are remembered as beloved young members of their schools and communities.
Rahway (NJ) High School shared the news on Twitter on Sept. 8 that Muhammad, a 17-year-old senior, had died. NJ.com spoke with members of the football team who remember him as a hard-working backup center whose play practically forced the starting unit to improve. He was a four-year football player and played on the junior varsity baseball team, according to the outlet.
“He played hard the whole time. He was the center of our opponent’s scout team and just did whatever you asked of him to make the team better. And he loved being a part of it,” head coach Brian Russo told NJ.com.
Ali, a month shy of his 18th birthday, died in his sleep, according to NJ.com.
Tragedy struck again Wednesday when Linden (NJ) High School sophomore Xavier McClain passed away. Death was reportedly caused by a head injury he sustained during a game on September 9.
Linden Mayor Derek Armstead posted a message on social media about McClain’s death:
“Together we prayed for a miracle and hoped for a different outcome. I believe God knows better. HE needed an angel and decided to call Xavier home to be with HIM.”
Armstead said ABC7 that he had, was close to the McClain family and had known the child for years.
“I watched him and his brother grow up, we were good friends with mom and dad … they were very active with sports in town – football, baseball, basketball – a good athlete and a very nice young man,” Armstead told the outlet.
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