Al Smith Jr. was supposed to play in his first junior varsity football game this week, but he fell ill while on the practice field Tuesday and died Thursday. Now his family is grieving.
Alexis Smith remembers her brother, Al, like a photo he showed us -- always joking around. She, still can't believe that her big brother is gone.
"He always played with me. Sometimes we fight, but we still got along with each other," Alexis said.
Smith, Jr. died Thursday morning, two days after falling ill during football practice at Eisenhower High School.
"He wanted to play professional ball, and he always wanted to be a real estate broker," said his father, Al Smith Sr.
The elder Smith says this was his son's first year on the junior varsity team. It was only his second day on the practice field. The school district says Smith Jr. felt ill and later fainted during football practice. He was rushed to the hospital and was initially conscious, but the situation deteriorated.
"They were saying his system was shutting down a lot," said Smith, Sr.
This was his first year playing football. His dad says his son was looking forward to his first game.
News of the teen's death hasn't yet spread through the school. Parents we talked to say the school is aware of outdoor weather conditions.
"I think they take of kids pretty good, might have just gotten overheated," said one parent.
For a grieving father, there are no words to lessen the pain of losing a son.
"He was just a good kid, that's all I can say, a good kid. Whatever happened, I'm lost for words," he said.
But he does offer a word of advice to other concerned parents.
"Make sure their kid drinks enough fluids before, even before they go on the field and do what they were doing," said Smith Sr.
A cause of death has not yet been determined.
The school says it is offering counselors to students who need it.