Xavier McClain, a sophomore at Linden High School, was injured during a game that took place on September 9 against Woodbridge High School, and he died of his injuries just over a week later.
Witnesses said that McClain had been returning the kickoff at the beginning of the game’s second half when he was injured, at which point play was halted and an ambulance was called to pick him up.
Linden Mayor Derek Armstead, a friend of the McClain family, shared his pleas for prayer in a Facebook post on Saturday.
“Our good friends, Lisa & Norman McClain, are asking the Linden community for prayers, nothing else, just your prayers for their son Xavier who suffered a traumatic brain injury while playing football during the LHS Tigers’ game vs Woodbridge,” he said, later adding, “If you can, stop what you are doing for a minute right now and join me in a moment of silence and prayers. Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve your sick servant, and give your power of healing to those who minister to his needs, that he may be strengthened in his weakness and have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Armstead posted the heartbreaking update late on Wednesday, thanking all of those who had joined him in prayer for doing so and adding that, while it was not the desired outcome, he believed is was part of God’s plan.
“Thank you to all my Linden Pray Warriors,” Armstead shared. “Together we prayed for a miracle and hoped for a different outcome. I trust that God knows better. HE needed an angel and decided to call Xavier home to be with HIM.”
“This news hurts because I have known his parents, Lisa and Norm for years. Xavier and Andres, their two sons, since they were little boys,” Armstead continued. “My wife and I spend time in their home and our children played together. Tragically, their worst fear came true. Norm and Lisa are devastated. Children are supposed to outlive their parents, not the other way around. I ask that you continue to keep the family in your prayers.”
Linden High School also released a statement announcing McClain’s passing, saying, “The Linden Public School district is deeply saddened by the tragic death of a Linden High School sophomore student. The district extends its heartfelt condolences and will continue to offer prayers and support to the family during this difficult time.”
The school has also promised to make counselors available to any students who need to speak with someone in the aftermath of the tragic accident.