CHINO HILLS (CBSLA.com) — Family and classmates bid a tearful farewell to an Inland Empire high school basketball star who died from an accident off the court.
A memorial for 17-year-old Nnamdi Okongwu was held Tuesday on the field at Chino Hills High School.
“Nnamdi … Nnamdi …” the teen’s father, Mike Okongwu, said while addressing mourners in the stands, before breaking into gut-wrenching sobs.
It was then that the teen’s aunt stepped in, saying he was a “very sweet, loving, caring child.”
Earlier this month, Nnamdi injured his head in a skateboarding accident. The high school senior wasn’t wearing a helmet.
Nnamdi was rushed to a hospital, where he recently died.
The star basketball player was one of the best in the state and was being recruited by several top colleges, his coach told the crowd.
“One thing I know about Nnamdi, that his teammates will never forget, is how often he forgot his basketball shoes to practice. And I’ll always remember those moments, how he would scramble to borrow someone else’s shoes right before practice,” Coach Steve Baik said.
Baik gave Nnamdi’s family the teen’s framed jersey.
A family friend told the crowd that Nnamdi’s mother was trying to start a fund to buy helmets for skateboarders.
“I don’t want any of you mothers to ever have to go through that. So, can you help me help this family, so we can give back a little bit?” the woman asked.
To help fund this endeavor, the family and school are holding a bingo fundraiser at noon Sunday in the high school’s gym. For more information, visit the Okongwu family’s Go Fund Me page.