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MAHONE: Player's death strikes home

It seemed as if it were time to let out a collected sigh of relief.

The summer preseason practices were just about over, and all the players were safe.

One of the first summers of preseason practice that wasn’t overshadowed by a player’s death.

Maybe these new, more stringent heat rules were taking affect, or perhaps a combination of that and players getting better acclimated to the weather.

But Friday, the football world was reminded of how precious life is.

After making what everybody has described as a routine tackle, Creekside junior De’Antre Turman fell to the field at Banneker High Stadium during a scrimmage game. He would later die after being taken to the hospital.

Only 16. So young.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office says his death resulted from his neck vertebrae being broken “due to blunt force trauma.”

I didn’t know Turman personally, and I never saw him play. But that doesn’t matter.

As a parent of two teenagers, this hits you personally.

Georgia High School Association executive director Ralph Swearngin might have summed it up best in his quotes to media outlets: “Any kind of death of an adolescent, it’s a tragedy.”

Many players and coaches have expressed sympathy through the social networks. It is believed that Turman is the first player to die as a result of an injury or collision since 2009. Running back Roy While of Cook High in Adel died after being tackled and hit in the chest during spring practice.

From all indications, Turman had a bright future, not only in football, but in life. He had already been offered a scholarship by Kentucky.

His former Creekside coach Johnny T. White spoke well of the player he use to coach.

“He’s one of the best kids I’ve ever dealt with in my 18 years of coaching, period, hands down,” White said. “He was quiet, but always smiling. He had a real good spirit. It was always yes sir, no sir. He enjoyed his team, and he loved his teammates. Just a great kid.”

We often take life for granted, especially when we are young.

Turman seemed to be persevering through early life adversity. His mother died when he was four, but he was fortunate to have a guardian to help ensure a family life.

Last month, three Brooks County football players were killed in a car accident.

Swearngin said as with any players death, the GHSA will “look into the circumstance” that lead to it. The hope is to try to limit the occurrence of another one of these tragedies.

“Unfortunately, life has risks, and we’re constantly trying to limit those,” Swearngin says.

The Southern Crescent is not immune to the tragedies. In the past two years, a football player has died, included one from heat related symptoms. Earlier this summer, another almost died from making a routine play.

Locust Grove defensive back Emilio Conde was hit in the side making a play on the ball, but thought nothing of the pain. He returned to the game.

However, the pain didn’t subside because his spleen had been ruptured, which caused internal bleeding. Upon this discovery, he was immediately life-flighted to a hospital in Macon. As it turns out, Conde was less than an hour away from missing more than just the 2013 football season.

“The doctors told me that if we would’ve waited 30 more minutes, I would’ve been dead,” Conde said.

I’m so glad Conde didn’t wait.

Derrick Mahone is the sport editor for the Clayton News Daily newspaper. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com. On Twitter? @DerrickMahone