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University of Daytona basket ball player collapses, dies at home at age 20
A promising University of Dayton basketball player’s life was tragically cut short when he collapsed and died at his family’s home this week at the age of just 20.
Steve McElvene died at 11.19am in New Haven on Thursday. An autopsy is currently being conducted but it is believed the cause of death was an enlarged heart.
The Flyers community is reeling from the loss of the 6ft 11in center they lovingly called Big Steve.
‘We are devastated at this news,’ Dayton basketball coach Archie Miller said in a statement.
‘Any death is a tragedy, but for someone so young who worked so hard to have his dreams within reach, it’s hard to put into words how painful this is.’
‘My family, our team and our staff will have to pull together, not only in support of Steve’s family, but in support of each other at this terrible time.’
University of Dayton President Dr Dan Curran said McElvene, a redshirt freshman who only missed one game this year when he was sick with a virus, had his heart tested during the second season.
‘We went through all the tests we could with him, and we weren’t going to clear him to play unless he had all the heart tests and so on,’ Curran told Dayton Daily News.
Hypertrophic cariomyopathy (HCM), a medical condition that often accompanies an enlarged heart, is a potentially dangerous type of heart disease that causes the heart muscle to thicken and enlarge, which can block or reduce blood flow.
It is the most common cause of cardiac death in people under the age of 30.
HCM can be misdiagnosed for athletic heart syndrome, in which the physical demands of sport and exercise cause an athlete’s heart to grow in size. The condition is non-fatal.
The two conditions can be difficult to tell apart, and athletes are advised to stop all high endurance activities for three to six months after receiving an enlarged heart diagnosis.
If the heart shrinks in size, doctors can be sure it is merely athlete’s heart and they are in the clear to continue their training, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
McElvene’s death has devastated coaches and teammates who watched him turn his life around after a slow start to his college basketball career.
Coming to Dayton ranked as the nation’s 40th best center and the number nine player in Indiana by ESPN, McElvene had to sit out his freshman season because of his grades.
McElvene, who weighed more than 300 pounds when he came to Dayton, trained hard with his team in the meantime. He dropped more than 60 pounds and began the next season listed at 268.
He went on to set the Dayton single-season record for blocks with 55 in the 2015-2016 school year, and averaged 6.1 points and 5.6 rebounds for the Flyers, according to WANE.
McElvene’s 179 rebounds rank sixth all-time for freshmen on the team.
It was a promising start for the center that helped his team get to the first round of the NCAA tournament and had potential to play professionally.
‘He was just scratching the surface, not only on the court but off,’ said former New Haven High School teammate VJ Beachem, who now plays for Notre Dame.
‘He was one of my biggest supporters, even when I wasn’t doing so hot at Notre Dame. And I told him he was up next, I truly believed he was going to be the next to make a name for himself.’
But Beachem said it will be McElvene’s big smile and personality that he will remember the most.
‘You never saw Steve without the smile on his face,’ he said. ‘He was just a great guy.’
‘As big of a guy he was and as good as a player he was, he was an even better person.’