Granite City High football player collapses during practice, later dies

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GRANITE CITY, IL (KPLR) – A 13-year old freshman showed no signs of preexisting medical issues before he collapsed at the beginning of stretching exercises with the football team Wednesday, officials at Granite City High School said.

Toney Graham was rushed to Gateway Regional Medical Center in Granite City, but medical personnel were unable to save him. Graham was pronounced dead just after 6 p.m.

Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn said an autopsy showed evidence of cardiac disease. Toxicology tests and tissue examinations must be completed before a cause of death is determined.

Graham was considered a good football prospect, according to Granite City High Superintendent Jim Greenwald.

“From what I was told there were no preexisting conditions that we know of,” Greenwald said.

The district will check the teen’s medical records on file with the district.

Twenty to 30 players were participating in a voluntary conditioning workout Wednesday afternoon inside an air conditioned gym, when Graham fell to the floor. Greenwald said several coaches rushed to his side and called 911.

“From what I gathered, he was laboring with breathing. It looked like there might be some type of seizure taking place,” Greenwald said.

Coaches told the superintendent that Graham was laughing and joking with friends just moments before he became ill. The students were just starting the stretching workout in preparation for some weightlifting.

“It wasn’t even anything that would get anybody’s heart rate up,” Greenwald said.

Graham was a new student to the Granite City School District. Coaches described him as a “fun loving, nice young man.”

Funeral arrangements have not been completed.