Autopsy: Athlete had enlarged heart; funeral set for Saturday

Preliminary autopsy results show that Antwon DeShone Whitehead, a basketball player for Carver High School in Columbus, had an extremely enlarged heart before he collapsed Saturday and died after a pickup game at the school gym.

Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said further toxicology and other tests are still pending to determine an exact cause of death. It will take four to six months for those test results.

Whitehead, a 15-year-old sophomore, was pronounced dead at 4:10 p.m. in the emergency room at The Medical Center after collapsing in the gym at 3100 Eighth St. Weighing 180 pounds and 6-foot-6 inches tall, the teen had just played in a game before he was stricken on the sideline.

With an enlarged heart, the teen would be increasing his heart rate on the court to an abnormal level and that wouldn't be good, the coroner said. The activity would be similar to pressing the gas pedal on an engine.

"The system really can't take it," Bryan said.

The family has a history with enlarged hearts.

"That is what we usually find with young kids, athletes," the coroner said. "I asked the family if there was a history of that and they said yes."

The death of Whitehead is the second Carver athlete to die from a possible heart problem this year. Adrian Rodgers, a 16-year-old wrestler, died in January after collapsing during practice.

The funeral for Whitehead is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Carver High School Gymnasium. Visitation will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday at International Funeral Home, 927 Fifth Ave. in Columbus, Charles Huff said.

Whitehead was born March 6, 1998, in Columbus, the son of LaToya Whitehead and Delrico Evans.

He attended public and private schools in Muscogee County and was consistently an honor roll student.

In addition to excelling in school, he also was an outstanding athlete in basketball, football, track and soccer.

As an eighth-grader, he was named Athlete of the Year and Most Valuable Player of the 2011 Loretta Cobb Annual Basketball Tournament.

After entering Carver in the 2011-2012 school year, Whitehead was a starting center and forward for the varsity basketball team.

He was a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and he received special recognition from President Barack Obama for this academic accomplishments.

A Division I college basketball prospect, he played with the Atlanta Express AAU and Georgia Wildcats Basketball Teams.

He aspired to attend Duke University and to become a math teacher.

Other than his parents, survivors include his stepfather, Edward J. Johnson; a brother, Ja'Quez Johnson; a sister, Tyreonna Whitehead; and a host of grandparents, uncles, aunts, relatives and friends.

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