Coaches, players mourning loss of teammate

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 30, 2010




BOUTTE – Hahnville High School is still reeling after the death of student De’Vante Alexander, who died Thursday night after he was found unresponsive by his basketball teammates during a practice at the school gym.

Basketball coach Brian Lumar was on his way out of town when he heard the news Thursday. He immediately set up a flight to return home and arrived back early Friday morning. That afternoon, he met with his team.

“We felt his presence,” Lumar said. “He was there with us in a way.”

Lumar said the meeting gave players and coaches a chance to swap stories about their teammate, whose personality Lumar described as “magnetic.”

“You could feel the love and support around the room,” said Lumar. “Guys told stories about how he made them laugh … it’s something that teaches you to cherish the moment, because you just never know when it could be your last.”

Alexander, 17, a junior from Luling who played on the junior varsity team, was taking a break during practice Thursday night and laid down on his stomach. When teammates got up to continue practice, Alexander did not join them. That’s when they found him unresponsive.

An assistant coach performed CPR on Alexander while waiting for emergency medical technicians to arrive.

He was transported to St. Charles Parish Hospital in Luling, where he later died, according to St. Charles School District spokeswoman Rochelle Cancienne-Touchard.

A spokesperson for the St. Charles Parish Coroner’s Office said Alexander died of natural causes due to a congenital heart defect present at birth.

The coroner’s office was awaiting the full autopsy results, which could take up to two months to be completed.

Lumar said he was still having a difficult time dealing with the teen’s death, likening Alexander’s loss to “losing a son.”

“It’s really, really hard to deal with,” he said. “You often spend more time with these kids than you do your own family. They become family.

“We talked earlier in the week. He thanked me for giving him the opportunity to be a part of the program. He said he knew he didn’t have a great practice that day, but he was going to come back twice as hard to help this program.

“Kids like him remind me of why I do this. We look to surround ourselves with good people. He was at the top of the list.”

Alexander’s funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at Mount Zion Baptist Church in St. Rose.