Fayette County

Dunbar basketball player collapses during open gym at school, dies

Dunbar coach remembers Star Ifeacho: "He touched so many different groups of people"

Paul Laurence Dunbar head basketball coach Scott Chalk spoke Wednesday about sophomore Star Ifeacho, who collapsed at an open-gym session and later died.
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Paul Laurence Dunbar head basketball coach Scott Chalk spoke Wednesday about sophomore Star Ifeacho, who collapsed at an open-gym session and later died.

Paul Laurence Dunbar boys’ basketball player Star Ifeacho died Wednesday after collapsing during open gym at the school, according to the Fayette County coroner’s office.

The cause of death was not immediately known. An autopsy will be performed Thursday on Star, who was pronounced dead at University of Kentucky Hospital at 5:47 p.m.

Star, 15, was a sophomore at Dunbar.

Fayette County schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said some basketball players were working on drills and playing two-on-two basketball games in the presence of coaches and an athletic trainer.

“Star had stopped shooting baskets and was with the athletic trainer when he collapsed in the locker room,” Fayette schools Superintendent Manny Caulk said in a news release. “The athletic trainer immediately provided emergency care, including CPR and the use of the AED (automated external defibrillator), while 911 was called. When paramedics arrived, they took over his care and transported him to the hospital.”

Caulk said counselors would be made available to students and staff on Dunbar’s campus Thursday.

Condolences poured in on Twitter Wednesday night.

Senior teammate Taveion Hollingsworth wrote, "i seen so much potential in you...i wanna let you know i love you boy your name is star for a reason shine bright on us .. #LLS"

Senior Teammate Kaelen Whiteside wrote: "You just ran up 2 me this morning and gave me a big hug and said what up Kaelen boy! Damn bruh I'm gnna miss u, can't believe u gone #LLS"

“The absolute worst part of my job is getting a call like I received Wednesday night with the sudden loss of this young man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family, the Paul Laurence Dunbar and Fayette County school community, and all of those who valiantly tried to save this young man following his incident. We recognize the fragile nature of life itself and wish peace on all who knew this fine young man during this difficult time,” said Julian Tackett, Kentucky High School Athletic Association commissioner.

Ifeacho was a 6-foot-1 shooting guard who saw key minutes for Dunbar as a sophomore. He averaged 6.8 points and 5.9 rebounds while playing in all 30 of Dunbar's games in the 2016-17 season. He would have been Dunbar's second-leading returning scorer for the 2017-18 season.

Staff writer Josh Moore contributed to this story. Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears

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