The Friendship Collegiate community was hit with a major blow Sunday as 2014 graduate Marquese Meadow died in the early morning at Johns Hopkins Hospital Center in Baltimore.

Meadow, a freshman defensive tackle at Morgan State University, had been hospitalized for a couple weeks after he collapsed at a recent practice.

The 18-year-old spent his junior and senior seasons at Friendship Collegiate after transferring from Ballou. Former Knights coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim said Meadow was a fun-loving teenager who always walked around with a smile.

“He was somebody who everyone liked, he could light up a room,” Abdul-Rahim said in a phone interview Sunday. “He was always smiling, grinning and joking. He really dedicated himself before his senior year to his craft of football. He worked hard and was awarded Division I opportunities. He became a leader and was one of our captains.”

A cause of death has not been confirmed.

Morgan State University spokesman Clint Coleman said Meadow was disoriented in practice and then was taken to an area hospital two weeks ago.

“He seemed to be making progress and it took a turn for the worse yesterday, and he passed away [Sunday] morning,” Coleman said. “Our prayers are with his family at this very difficult time. His Morgan State family is mourning his death.”

Abdul-Rahim, now an assistant coach at Alabama, described Meadow as having an extremely close relationship with his mother, Benita. Meadow’s mother traveled to all of her son’s game whether they were in Florida, New Jersey or the District. She was also one of the Knights team moms.

“Ironically, I met him with his mother,” Abdul-Rahim said. “You saw off the bat how close they were and how much they loved him. She was extremely affectionate, and always extremely protective of him.  She wasn’t going for anything in regards to the well-being of her child. She wanted the best for her child and wanted to see him get a college education. That was her main factors, it’s why she brought him over to us.”

Members of the coaching staff and players visited Benita on Sunday evening to offer their condolences and spend time with her as she dealt with her loss.

“To lose him is hard because I knew him for so long,” Friendship Collegiate senior lineman Quarvez Boulware said. “It’s kind of hard to digest, we were just playing together a couple of months ago. He taught me a few lessons growing up and maturing as I was coming up when I got to Friendship.”

Meadow and Abdul-Rahim exchanged text messages in early August before camp started as Meadow updated his former coach on his status at the Baltimore school. At the time of his passing Meadow was on the two-deep at defensive tackle for the Bears’ defense, and he was expected to travel with the team to away games.

“I just feel real sad for his family,” Abdul-Rahim said. “They were a real close-knit group, his mom and sisters were really close. If you see one, you see all of them. It’s very sad it happened to his family, and my prayers are with his mother and family.”

At 6 feet 2 and 300 pounds, Meadow drew college interest from Akron, Eastern Michigan, Maryland and Tennessee, but he chose to attend Morgan State, his father’s alma mater. Funeral arrangements have yet to be released.