FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – A high school football player in Arizona died from an injury suffered in the fourth quarter of a blowout playoff game loss, serving as another tragic reminder of the dangers of head trauma in youth sports.
Hopi High School senior Charles Youvella died of a traumatic brain injury Monday at a hospital, the Arizona Interscholastic Association said. He was injured Saturday in Hopi's 60-6 loss to Arizona Lutheran in a first-round playoff game. Youvella scored his team's only touchdown in the game.
The death attracted national attention after Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald weeted a picture of Youvella and asked people to pray for the teen's family, friends and teammates.
A community memorial is planned for Wednesday evening at the high school auditorium. The Arizona Interscholastic Association says Charles Youvella died with his family by his side. Youvella's father, Wallace Youvella Jr., is the school's athletic director.
"We'll all have to move forward and at least support one another and support our young children," Hopi Chairman Le Roy Shingoitewa said.
The death comes at a time when head injuries in football are attracting attention at all levels of the sport.
The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council two weeks ago called for a national system to track sports-related concussions and answer questions about youth concussions.
The report said 250,000 people age 19 and younger were treated in emergency rooms for concussions and other sports- or recreation-related brain injuries in the country in 2009. That was an increase from 150,000 in 2001.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association says an account will be established to help defray costs for the Youvella family.
Hopi High School is in the community of Keams Canyon, on the Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona.