Xavier McClain: High school football player dies after suffering traumatic brain injury during game

Game video shows play was stopped and an ambulance along the Linden sideline about 10 minutes after the play

Xavier McClain: High school football player dies after suffering traumatic brain injury during game
Xavier McClain (L) sustained the blow as he returned the second-half kickoff for Linden (Instagram/@derekarmstead)
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UNION COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: In a tragic turn of events, Linden High School sophomore Xavier McClain lost his life to a traumatic brain injury this week. The incident took place earlier this month on September 9, in a Big Central Conference Game against Woodbridge. According to a person at the game who is not authorized to speak publicly, McClain suffered the blow when he returned the second-half kickoff. 

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Video obtained from the match shows the game was paused and an ambulance came to the sideline to give him medical attention, reports NJ.com. Linden's mayor, Derek Armstead, announced McClain's death via Facebook and Instagram. He has known the family for years, regularly provided updates on social media, and asked everyone to continue praying. He gave the unfortunate update on social media on Wednesday night, September 21. 

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"Thank you to all my Linden prayer 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 of weeks ago while playing football during the LHS Tigers’ game vs Woodbridge." Armstead wrote. "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. 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." 

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On September 17, Armstead posted another update asking everyone to pray and keep the faith. He even mentioned that financial donations and such are not on their minds right now. He wrote a heartfelt prayer for the boy, hoping the situation would get him well soon.

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This is the second tragedy for Union County high school football in this month. On September 8, Rahway High School senior Ali Muhammad died in his sleep and was found by his father. According to the news outlet, McClain was a 'budding star' for his head coach Al Chiola and he broke into the lineup a few times last season when he was just a freshman. Linden won that game against Woodbridge, 31-0, with major contributions from Xavier on both sides of the ball.

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Linden and Rahway played the season opener against each other. Muhammad did not play that game and died six days later. His funeral was held on September 22.

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