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Brandon High athlete's death stuns those who knew him

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Published:   |   Updated: September 23, 2013 at 06:53 AM

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BRANDON – A routine conditioning drill for Brandon High School’s basketball players — running around the track at the high school Friday afternoon in preparation for indoor practice — was something Milo Meeks had probably done hundreds of times. He lived and breathed high school hoops and was a potential starter on this year’s team.

“It was a normal day for the boys on the ball team,” said head coach Jamie Turner on Sunday afternoon.

But something was not right, and Meeks, a 17-year-old senior forward wasn’t feeling right and he asked Turner if he could go inside to the bathroom. Turner told Meeks to go, get some water, take a break.

Meeks made it to a water fountain and collapsed in front of the gymnasium, Turner said. An ambulance was called and Meeks wound up at Brandon Regional Hospital, where he died of unknown causes Saturday, with his family and Turner at his side.

The death stunned coaches, athletes, students and administrators at Brandon High. A team of crisis counselors will be at the school on Monday morning to talk to students and ballplayers and anyone else disturbed by Meeks’ death.

The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office has completed an autopsy, but the exact cause of death is pending test results that won’t be known for weeks, maybe months, a spokeswoman in the office on Sunday said.

Meeks had transferred to Brandon this year after playing basketball for three years at Armwood High School in Seffner.

“He was a big strong kid,” Turner said, still emotional about the weekend’s tragic events. “Milo Meeks always gave 110 percent. He didn’t show any weaknesses. He was a good kid; a good student.”

The team is devastated, he said.

“He was only here for one month,” Turner said. “But a lot of the athletes have known him for six or seven years. They knew who he was. The players are really touched by this situation.”

Turner was with Meeks and his family at the hospital when he passed. Meeks was on a ventilator, when his major organs began to shut down.

“I told his mom I wouldn’t leave him,” Turner said. “We just prayed the entire time. We had faith that Milo was going to come back, but, obviously ... ”

Asked to talk about the final moments in the hospital, Turner would only say: “It was nothing you could prepare for.”

A 6-foot-2-inch, 170-pound forward, Meeks played junior varsity basketball at Armwood his freshman and sophomore years. On the varsity team last season he played in 15 games and scored 34 total points.

Brandon High Principal Carl Green said Meeks, like all other high school athletes, must complete a physical before being cleared to play.

“Milo had a dream,” Green said. “His dream was to be an athlete. He was a great kid and he can be an inspiration to all of us.

“I’m just praying for his family right now,” Green said.

Meeks is the most recent Hillsborough high school basketball player to collapse during practice drills.

In 2009, Wharton High School basketball player Drake Williams, then 16, collapsed during practice. He was resuscitated by Tampa Fire Rescue paramedics who happened to be at the school for a fundraiser football game.

At the time, doctors said Williams suffered sudden cardiac death when his heart stopped beating. Doctors fitted Williams with an internal defibrillator.

In 2007, Chamberlain High basketball coach Doug Aplin used CPR and a portable defibrillator to resuscitate 17-year-old Kenneth Brooks after he collapsed during basketball practice.

kmorelli@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7760

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