High School Football Player Dana Payne Dies After Routine Hit in Practice

By Sam Saltess

A healthy, 5-foot-11 sophomore high school football player from Memphis has died after a seemingly regular collision during an afternoon football practice.

As reported by the Memphis Commercial Appeal and Memphis NBC affiliate WMC-TV, Dana Payne, a 15-year-old football star, never got up after a routine football play. CPR was administered on the field before the ambulance could arrive, where his heartbeat was briefly retrieved.

The ambulance arrived shortly after, but Payne died en route to the hospital.

Millington Central High School was sent into shock with many not understanding how a routine play could end the life of one of their own. Payne had no family history and no previous incidents that would ever indicate something like this could happen. It will likely take days to find out the exact cause of death.

“[Payne’s death is] a tragic loss,” Shelby County Schools Superintendent John Aitken told the Commercial Appeal. “Any time you lose a sophomore in high school, it’s heartbreaking and it never gets easier.”

It has been reported that on Wednesday morning alone, eight Millington Central students were transported to area hospitals, dealing with severe emotional distress related to the death of Payne.

To honor his memory, the town has begun putting up black and gold ribbons (their school colors) to honor Payne, who had hopes of going to college to become a doctor in his hometown.

“The kids are emotional,” says Millington mayor Linda Carter. “The football team is having a real hard time, as well as the coaches.”

Any time you hear a story of a promising young person with dreams and aspirations dying too soon, you can’t help but  feel a great deal of pain for their family, friends and community. It’s just another reminder that tomorrow is never promised and we hope the Millington community can heal quickly and continue to honor Payne’s memory.

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