FENNVILLE, Mich. — One moment: a perfect shot to end a perfect season. The star player, just 16, lifted off the floor in celebration. Teenagers triumphant, crowds cheering, the district playoffs ahead, the future open wide.
The next: Wes Leonard on the gym floor, his heart failing, his life fading just a few moments after his victory layup. Packed bleachers suddenly stunned by an event that made basketball seem a distant, unimportant memory.
A day after Leonard died from an enlarged heart, this small town near Lake Michigan remembered an “all-American kid” whose athletic heroics had been local legend since middle school, when opposing coaches sometimes asked to see his birth certificate, not believing someone so young could be so skilled.
“He was a good kid, a good friend to have and a good person to hang around with,” DeMarcus McGee, who played football and basketball with Leonard, said between sobs. “You never thought it could be him. He was so healthy. It shouldn’t happen.”
The guidance counselor from Wes’s Fennville High School, spoke of needing to comfort the many elementary school students who witnessed the game and sudden death. Friends and family will grieve for Wes and try to make sense of this tragedy. 50 teddies will be there to help.