Emmanuel “Manny” Antwi, an 18-year-old senior from Kennedy High of Sacramento, was being remembered fondly by teammates and classmates on Saturday, March 20, after it was announced that he had died. Antwi had collapsed on the sidelines Friday night nearly one-hour into Kennedy’s football game at home against Sacramento Unified School District rival Hiram Johnson.
The game itself was immediately stopped and cancelled. Antwi was rushed to a local hospital and his collapse was the lead story on most Sacramento area TV stations on their 11 p.m. newscasts. His condition was not known at the time, but TV images from Kennedy’s game showed distraught coaches and one report said the player was being given CPR.
“Today we learned that Emmanuel Antwi, a John F. Kennedy senior athlete, died after a medical emergency during Friday night’s football game,” the district said in a statement Saturday. “We do not have many details to share beyond this. Our hearts go out to Emmanuel’s family and our school community during this difficult time. We ask all to give them privacy and time for healing and comfort as they grieve.”
A GoFundMe account was established for Antwi’s mother also on Saturday. It was done to account for funeral costs and to help her with the difficulty of raising two other children. As of Sunday morning, the account had already surpassed the goal of $20,000 but in this case the more the better.
“After waiting months due to COVID, the first football game of the season was finally here,” the GoFundMe statement read. “He just told his football coach that he finally got his driver’s license. He was so excited. Emmanuel “Manny” was loved by so many and he was a great young man and he definitely was too young to pass away.”
According to Kennedy’s MaxPreps’ page, Antwi was a 5-foot-10, 280-pound senior lineman. He also was a member of the Cougars’ team that played in the fall of 2019.
“There is nothing that can prepare you for a moment like that,” Johnson football coach Alex Gomes-Coelho told the Sacramento Bee and who had to console his own players. “The pain is indescribable. When you play or coach team sports you really become a family. My heart hurts for Cougar Nation and Manny’s family at home.”
The last high school football death reported by us in California was in 2013. That was from a head injury suffered by Tyler Lewellen from Arlington (Riverside) in a game vs. Chino Hills. We have also been informed by Chris Fore of the California Coaches Association that there was a football related death in 2016 of a player who was participating in spring football practice. We can add that a majority of all cases similar to Antwi’s that we have reported on since 1980 (including those from head, spinal injuries and those from other medical issues) have happened early in a season (usually in August and September). No cause of death obviously has yet to be reported for Antwi.