Local coach offers warning to parents, players after athlete’s death

Local coach offers warning to parents, players after athlete’s death

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - LJ Johnson, a local football and basketball coach, took to Twitter to share a message following the death of 19-year-old James Hampton. In his tweet he said he hoped that all student athletes signed up for Heart of a Champion Day, a program offered by Atrium Health that allows student athletes to get free health screenings.

Hampton collapsed and died during a basketball game held at a tournament in Virginia Saturday night.

It is unclear what led to Hampton's death, but the young man's father, Early Johnson, told WBTV his son has previously passed out during games before. The grieving father said that doctors have never been able to figure out what was causing him to pass out.

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"They ran every test on him from the brain to the heart and the hospital said everything came back normal," said Early Johnson.

LJ Johnson said he knew Hampton through basketball.

"He had a promising future ahead of him and it just came abruptly to an end. It's always unfortunate to hear," said the coach.

LJ Johnson helps coach basketball and football at Butler High School. He also coaches AAU basketball in Charlotte. The death of Hampton reminded him of Heart of a Champion Day. The annual event will be held Saturday, June 2 at the Airport Training Center in Charlotte.

"It's extremely important," said Johnson. "I can't stress it enough. Everybody in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) community to just take a couple hours out of your day and just go over there and get the screening."

Registration for the event has officially closed. Approximately 1,800 student athletes have registered for the event, according to Lea Ramsey of Atrium Health's Corporate Communications, Marketing and Outreach department.

This is the 11th year Atrium Health has offered the program. Ramsey said more than 20,000 students from across the area have received screenings during the events. She said that more than 1,000 students have been identified with abnormal screening results in cardiology, general medicine or orthopedics.

LJ Johnson hopes the event can help detect potentially serious health issues with young people in the in the community. He doesn't want to hear about another situation where an athlete dies playing a sport they love.

"I just think it's a great opportunity to prevent further tragedies like this from happening," said Johnson.

Parents who missed registration for the Heart of a Champion event can still sign up for physicals through primary care physicians with Atrium Health.

Hampton's parents are still awaiting the results of an autopsy.

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