At Fort Mahan Park in Northeast, Friendship Collegiate got back to football this week. The teenagers attempted to move forward after the death of standout defensive lineman and their former teammate Marquese Meadow at Johns Hopkins Hospital Center in Baltimore on Sunday.
The school offered grief counseling and several alumni attended Friendship practice Monday as the Knights tried to cope with the news that Meadow, an 18-year-old college freshman, was dead before his first game with the Morgan State football team.
Meadow had been hospitalized for two weeks after he collapsed at a practice. Results of an autopsy released Monday showed he died from complications of heat stroke. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner spokesman Bruce Goldfarb said the death was ruled accidental.
“They’re more focused for Marquese,” Friendship Collegiate Coach Mike Hunter said Monday. “They are using it as motivation, they don’t want to let their brother down.”
According to the Korey Stringer Institute, Meadow is the second college football player to die of heat stroke since the NCAA implemented new heat acclimatization policies for all of college football in 2003. His passing adds another chapter to the ongoing, troubling saga of heat-related deaths in football.
Former Knights coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim described Meadow as a fun-loving teenager with a smile that would light up a room.
In a statement on the team’s Web site, Morgan State Coach Lee Hull said, “Marquese was a great young man and a member of this family who was highly respected and loved by his teammates and coaching staff.”
The Morgan State athletic department declined to provide further comment. Through her attorney, Meadows’s mother, Benita, also declined to comment.
Members of the coaching staff and players visited Benita on Sunday evening to offer their condolences.
“To lose him is hard because I knew him for so long,” Friendship Collegiate senior lineman Quarvez Boulware said of Meadow. “It’s kind of hard to digest. We were just playing together a couple of months ago.”
Meadows was on the two-deep chart at defensive tackle for the Bears, 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 saw one, you saw 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. The family’s attorney William C. McCaskill said the funeral is planned for Tuesday.