[Tragedy] Youth Football Player Suffers Painful Death After Being Paralyzed

Donnovan Hill

[Tragedy] Youth Football Player Suffers Painful Death After Being Paralyzed

How can the sport be made safer on the youth level?

Published May 11, 2016

Signing your child up for youth football means you're accepting that injuries are part of the game and that your kid could get hurt.

But Donnovan Hill didn't deserve this. Nobody deserves this. The former Pop Warner football player, who was paralyzed while making a head-first tackle at 13, died Wednesday at the age of 18 from complications of a surgery, ESPN reported.

Tragically, Hill entered the surgery Tuesday, believing that it was "minor," but still welcomed prayers, as evidenced by his final tweet.


Upon learning of the news, there has been an outpouring of condolences sent out via social media.

According to ESPN, the Lakewood, California, native had previously reached an undisclosed seven-figure settlement with Pop Warner, which he sued for a failure of taking proper measures over coaches' training. In 2011, Hill was paralyzed making a head-first tackle that coaches taught Pop Warner players to execute in goal-line situations.

Hill's mom, Crystal Dixon, told ESPN that Donnovan was slated to undergo a routine procedure Tuesday to clean a skin graft in relation to his paralysis. She added that the surgery took a turn for the worse when the doctor accidentally cut an artery, triggering Donnovan to fall into a coma from a loss of blood. Absolutely gut-wrenching. He died early Wednesday before 5 a.m.

Dixon additionally told ESPN that Donnovan's last words to his family was: "I love you all. I just want to say, I love you all."

Prior to his passing, Hill was also the subject of an ESPN Outside the Lines report.

Tom Farrey, an ESPN writer who worked on the OTL report, tweeted out these memories of Donnovan and the impact he made.

Rest in peace, Donnovan Hill.

We hope Pop Warner and other youth football leagues do everything in their power to make the already violent sport as safe as possible.

The question is how do they do that without taking away from the essence of football? Not an easy problem to solve. 

We wonder if the enrollment of youth football will take a hit.

BET Sports News — Get the latest news and information about African-Americans in sports, including weekly recaps, celebrity news and photos of your favorite Black athletes.

Written by Mark Lelinwalla

(Photo: Donnovan Hill via Twitter)


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