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Family Says High School Basketball Star Is Very Much Alive

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CHINO HILLS (CBSLA.com) — The family of a high school basketball star who was critically injured in a skateboarding accident says he is very much alive, despite reports to the contrary.

Nnamdi Okongwu, 17, plays center for Chino Hills High School and was reported dead Wednesday.

Okongwu was rushed to a hospital after hitting his head while skateboarding two days ago.

Classmates offered condolences to his family on Twitter. One of his coaches described him as being brain dead after the accident.

On Wednesday evening, the hospital said Okongwu was alive but couldn’t provide his condition.

CBS2’s Tom Wait spoke to family members Thursday who say they believe Okongwu will pull through.

“Nnamdi is there. Until Nnamdi is gone, please don’t cancel Nnamdi out. Just pray,” said his aunt, Niki Chiaroscuro.

Family and friends are holding vigil and keeping the faith.

“He was on his way coming home from school when he had an accident. That’s all we know; that’s all we can give,” his aunt said.

The family also said Thursday that one of Okongwu’s coaches was mistaken when he said that the teen is brain dead.

“God is going to be the final say in all of this. That’s what we are hoping for. We are praying that Nnamdi is still with us right now,” family friend Prisca Emechete said.

Police say the 6-foot-9 teen was going north on Pipeline near El Molino when he lost control of his skateboard and fell, severely injuring his head.

Sheriff’s deputies were back at the scene Thursday to investigate the accident. Emergency officials say the teen they treated was unresponsive. A witness says she saw paramedics trying to stabilize him.

“He was laying down. They had his right hand picked up and his head kind of elevated,” witness Brittina Olmos said.

Okongwu’s incredible abilities on the basketball court earned him a scholarship to Loyola Marymount University.

The family believes he will get better and play ball again. And they told Wait the only thing more impressive than Okongwu’s skills on the court is his big heart.

“He’s respectful to his parents; he’s obedient. He’s just a big, gentle giant,” his aunt said.

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