POSTED: Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:00pm
UPDATED: Monday, January 7, 2013 - 3:04pm
BUFORD, GA (WGCL) — Jeremy Nelson, 12, became the latest Buford athlete to die while doing what he loved: playing a sport.
Jeremy had been playing with other seventh-graders as part of the Gwinnett Basketball League on Saturday night at the Suwanee Sports Academy when he collapsed at about 9:00 p.m. He died shortly after at Gwinnett Medical Center.
His father, Herb Nelson, spoke to CBS Atlanta outside of the family's home, which was packed with supporters on Sunday night. He said his son was 5'11" and wore a size 14 shoe - and that he had hoped to see him continue to grow into a skilled basketball player.
"This time yesterday we were cheering him on at the game," Herb Nelson said. "You never - you never expect to leave home and come back without him."
Herb Nelson said his son received annual physicals, which are required to play many sports, and that he had no known health problems.
"We don't know what it is yet, so once we find out - we don't want healthy kids running up and down the basketball court and dying," Herb Nelson said.
Just down the street from Jeremy Nelson's home lives the family of Adam Smith, a Buford High School junior who collapsed in October. He had been training on the school's football field as part of his basketball training and died days later. Last January, Buford High School football coach Ryan Daniel had been playing basketball before school began and collapsed and died as well.
Herb Nelson said his faith is helping Jeremy's mother, twin sister and older sister through this difficult time.
"When it's your time - your number comes up," Herb Nelson said. "I would have traded places a thousand times with my son. You can't run from your time."
Buford City School System Superintendent Dr. Geye Hamby issued a statement to CBS Atlanta about Jeremy on behalf of the school system:
"Jeremy was a very kind young man and an excellent student athlete. Jeremy had a presence in the hallways and on the court. He was a young man that always shared kindness with others and one that the students enjoyed being around. His very pleasant demeanor will be missed by all. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jeremy's family and with all who knew and loved him."
Hamby also stated that Jeremy's two sisters attended the Buford City School System. Jeremy's twin, Jessica, is in the seventh-grader. His older sister Kristina, a 12th-grader, played on the Buford High School's varsity girls basketball team.
There's no word on the cause of Jeremy's death.