Teen collapses during basketball game

October 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Contra Costa County coroner's office is investigating the death of a 15-year-old De La Salle High School student who collapsed during a basketball game. Darius Jones was a freshman who dreamed of playing for De La Salle. The teenager's death has shocked the East Bay school and everyone who knew him.

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By all accounts, Darius was a well-adjusted, happy kid. This was his first year at De La Salle High School in Concord and he hoped to make the basketball team. De La Salle's basketball coach Frank Allocco first met Darius a few years ago.

"Darius always came up and shook your hand, he just had a great smile. He was just an infectious personality," said Allocco.

On Sunday, the high school freshman from Pittsburg died unexpectedly on the campus of Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill.

Since the basketball season hadn't yet started at De La Salle High School, Darius was shooting hoops at DVC as part of an off-season youth league.

"And while in the course of the game was running the length of the court and from what we understand he collapsed. The remains of Darius have been given to the coroner and they will be performing an autopsy on him," said De La Salle principal Christopher Brady.

Results aren't expected for a few weeks. In the meantime, two Facebook pages have been set up in Darius's memory. It was clear Darius was excited about attending De La Salle. On his Myspace page, he wrote: "I'm going to De la Salle and I'm ready for anything and everything that confronts me in high school."

"That's what's neat about this is that he did get to live his dream. It was his passion," said Allocco.

Darius, though, will never live the other part of his dream, which was to play basketball for De La Salle. It will be in that gym where students will gather on Tuesday for a special assembly to pray for him and his family.

ABC7's Dan Ashley met Darius and sent him, all expenses paid, to summer camp at Lake Tahoe through his Friends of Camp Concord Golf Tournament. Ashley met with Darius a couple of years ago and immediately was impressed with him. He was bright, polite, and extremely eager. They talked about playing basketball at summer camp.

Darius told Ashley in an interview, "We got a better sense of intensity because the high school players were there, so they brought a extra fold, so you had to try to do what they were doing." Ashley asked him if he felt like he came out of that experience a better basketball player. Darius replied, "Yeah, I do because I feel like I understand the game better and it helped my defense and it helped my offense too. I learned that shooting and stuff isn't always the answer. You have to do the dirty work sometimes, like getting rebounds, getting steals, and playing hard defense."

It was obvious Darius loved basketball. His mother also told Ashley about what a great kid he was.

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