New Jersey high school sophomore dies two weeks after suffering severe brain injury during football game

  • During the fatal game, play was stopped in the second half and the victim was rushed into an ambulance
  • Xavier McClain was in hospital on life support for nearly two weeks before succumbing to his severe injuries.¬†
  • Kick-offs have been described by Mark Murphy, a member of the league's competition committee, as 'by far the most dangerous play in the game'¬†

Tributes have poured in for a much-loved high school sophomore who died two weeks after he suffered a traumatic injury during a varsity football game.  

Xavier McClain, from New Jersey, was playing in a football game for Linden High School on September 9 when he sustained a severe brain injury while returning a kick-off. 

During the fatal game, play was stopped in the second half and McClain, who was 5'5 tall, was rushed into an ambulance. 

McClain was in hospital on life support for nearly two weeks before succumbing to his severe injuries yesterday.  

Linden High School ended up winning that game against Woodbridge 31 to 0, thanks to substantial contributions from Xavier, according to those who were at the match. 

Tributes poured in for the much-loved sophomore from New Jersey who died from his serious injuries earlier this month

Xavier McClain was playing in a football match for Linden High School on September 9 when he was severely injured. He died nearly two weeks later after being on life support

A kick-off is when the twenty-two players are lined up before the kicker boots the ball from the 35-yard line. The players then sprint at each other from 15 yards away, instead of lining up just feet apart.

This allows the potential for traumatic injuries - especially to the neck and head.  

The move has been described by Mark Murphy, a member of the league's competition committee, as 'by far the most dangerous play in the game.' 

McClain was praised for his athleticism - having broken into his school's lineup as a freshman.  

Mayor of Linden Derek Armstead wrote in tribute: 'Thank you to all my Linden Pray Warriors. Together we prayed for a miracle and hoped for a different outcome. 

'I trust that God knows better. HE needed an angel and decided to call Xavier home to be with HIM. With your prayers, Xavier fought a good fight. 

'In the end, he succumbed to the injuries that he sustained a couple weeks ago while playing football during the LHS Tigers' game vs Woodbridge.

'This news hurts because I have known his parents, Lisa and Norm for years, Xavier and Andres, their two sons, since they were little boys. My wife and I spend time in their home and our children played together. 

Xavier was in the kick-off when he was injured. The move has been described by Mark Murphy, a member of the league's competition committee, as 'by far the most dangerous play in the game'

'Tragically, their worst fear came true. Norm and Lisa are devastated. Children are supposed to outlive their parents, not the other way around. I asked that you continue to keep the family in your prayers.'

One heartbroken family member wrote: 'To my cousins Norman and Lisa McClain, my prayers are with you on the list of your son Xavier, no one knows the heartache that a parent is going through when losing a child, I am there for you and with you. 

'I pray God comforts you and give you peace, know that Xav is smiling down on you, and know that you will see him again in the mourning.' 

Acting Superintendent of Schools Denise Cleary said: 'Xavier was critically injured during a varsity football game on Sept. 9, 2022. He has been hospitalized since and tragically passed away last evening. We are extremely saddened by his untimely death.' 

McClain is the second Union County football player to die in September. Senior Ali Muhammad, from Rahway High School, died in his sleep hours after an accident during training. 

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New Jersey high school sophomore dies from severe brain injury at football game 

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