A young high school football player in New Jersey has died after an apparent head injury he suffered in a game two weeks ago.
Linden High School sophomore Xavier McClain, a standout player for the Tigers football team, died Wednesday, leaving the school and town community heartbroken.
At 5 feet 5 inches tall, McClain wasn't the biggest player on the field. But his friends and teammates said he always played the game with all his heart, even going back to his days as a youngster playing Pop Warner. Those same friends and teammates on Thursday crossed their arms in an "X" as they entered the field house, honoring the nickname for their beloved pal.
"I knew him since elementary school, he was one of my first friends...he was a good person, a very genuine person," said classmate Jessica Diugrand.
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Linden was playing Woodbridge at their home field on Sept. 9 when the 16-year-old took a catastrophic hit during the second half of the game. McClain was able to get back to his feet, but collapsed again and officials called for an ambulance.
"He got right back up like he was a strong person, and then fell back down. It was just hurting and sad to see someone go so fast, thinking they were gonna go back home to end up in a coma, you know," said classmate Asia Marshall.
McClain was rushed to the hospital and fought to survive for two weeks before he succumbed to the severe head injury.
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Linden Mayor Derek Armstead, who was at the game and knew McClain, said the community will come together to do whatever they can to support the devastated family.