Reporting John Lauritsen
NEW HOPE, Minn. (WCCO) — A Robbinsdale Cooper High School student died while playing basketball at a Twin Cities YMCA.
Seventeen-year-old Kalonyea Wopea was playing basketball Thursday with some friends in New Hope.
Witnesses say he collapsed during a game. He was rushed to North Memorial Hospital where he died.
“I love him and he loved me. He’s just an outgoing person. Very happy all the time,” said his father, Miamen Wopea.
Kalonyea was the youngest of eight children. His closest friends and family called him “KB” for short. And they say his genuine personality is what they’ll miss the most.
“He liked to see people laugh and people think he’s a comedian. It’s just his personality. He wants to be happy and he does the same thing at home,” said Miamen.
Basketball was Kalonyea’s love and his family says he played at Cooper. And it wasn’t unusual for him to go to the Northwest YMCA to shoot hoops after school.
“I speed to the hospital only to see that my son was gone. I didn’t believe it,” said Miamen.
Kalonyea’s friends at Cooper can’t believe it either. Friday was spent remembering a 17-year-old, who had dreams of going to Ohio State and possibly becoming a scientist.
Counselors were at Cooper all day and students were allowed to leave school with parent permission, if they were having a difficult time with the loss of Kalonyea.
Those that stayed at school wore ribbons with the initials “KB” on them. One of Kalonyea’s best friends, Dashawn Williams, said the school seems to be in shock.
“It was real sad. It wasn’t a place you wanted to be, knowing that one of your best friends is gone now at a young age. Not being able to control that is hard,” said Dashawn.
Kalonyea’s family is waiting for an autopsy to determine how died, but they think he may have had a heart condition.
Cooper High School has set up a fund for the family. Anyone interested in making a donation should call 763-504-8507.