The mother of a 13-year-old boy who died Wednesday night after collapsing during football practice tells NBC 5 her son was "the life of her household" and "a shining star" who loved sports, singing and dancing.
Monica McBride-Debbs, the mother of Kyrell McBridge-Johnson, spoke with NBC 5 Thursday and said she was at her son's practice Wednesday when she saw him collapse on the field.
Debbs said the team was running drills when her son signaled to her that they were about to take a break.
"He held his hand up at me, so I started getting water ready. Normally when they take a break he'll run up and get the water. It was close to them getting out of practice," Debbs said. "He started running toward, you know, off the field and he passed up the water as if he was coming up to me."
That's when Debbs said she noticed something different in her son.
"His body just started moving in these different ways and he just locked and turned and fell," Debbs said. "He just collapsed. I ran up to him and he was taking breaths."
Debbs said the coaches soon surrounded her son and rushed him into the locker room where they performed CPR and packed him with ice.
"I was on the line with 911 the whole time and she was giving instructions," Debbs said.
Kyrell was transported to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest and then to Cook Children's Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased.
Debbs, who also has five daughters, told NBC 5 she's eager to learn what took her only son's life.
"I want to know because I had a healthy boy," Debbs said. "Everybody is in disbelief. It just hasn't set in yet. Because Kyrell was a healthy boy."
She said he had asthma when he was younger but hadn't used inhaler in years, had no known heart conditions and that he'd just passed a physical.
"Right now I still don't know. I have no clue. My son had no heart problems. That's basically what I'm getting, you know. The heart kept stopping. The heart kept stopping. We kept having to shock him and rescuscitate him," Debbs said. "I really want answers. I really want to know what happened to him. Even if it was some kind of underlying medical problem behind the scenes that nobody knew, I can get my other kids checked. And that's for other parents too."
This year was the first year Kyrell played organized football since he was 7-years-old. Debbs said he ran track and played softball and basketball in Mansfield last year and was successful.
"Football was like a beginning thing. Out of nowhere, he said, 'Momma I want to try out for quarterback and running back. If I don't make quarterback, I want to try out for running back,'" Debbs recalled.
At first, Debbs wasn't so sure and she wanted him to focus on his others sports. "Stay in your lane," she said she told him.
"He said, 'I can run fast so they won't catch me. So they're not going to hit me.' That was his excuse. And he said, 'They're going to be cheering, calling my name. I want to hear them call my name,'" Debbs said.
She finally agreed and the day before her son died she said he was excited about what he was going to practice the next day.
"He told his Papa, he say, 'Papa, tomorrow is a big day.' Because they were going to teach him how to run routes. He didn't know how to run routes. He said, 'Papa, tomorrow is a big day,'" Debbs said.
"That's him every day. Every day that's his lifestyle. He's dancing. He's singing. He's playing and joking around," Debbs said. "He wanted to dance. He wanted to make movies. He's an actor. He's an entertainer by nature."
In a district-wide letter, Crowley ISD Superintendent Michael McFarland notified parents and faculty Kyrell experienced a medical emergency that left him unresponsive while practicing with his Summer Creek Middle School team.
"The entire Crowley ISD community is incredibly saddened by this tragedy and the loss of this young life," McFarland wrote. "We do not yet know what caused Kyrell’s passing, but our priority right now is to provide support and care to the family, friends and educators who knew and loved him."
Grief counselors from the district's crisis response team will be on hand to offer support to students and staff at Summer Creek Middle School and other campuses.
"Please pay special attention to our students tomorrow and in the days ahead, and contact a school counselor if you see someone in need of support," McFarland said. "Please join me and the entire Crowley ISD family in keeping Kyrell’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."
"Kyrell has a heart of gold," Debbs said. "He's like a shining star. You put him in a room, he's going to light up the whole room."
NBC 5's Scott Gordon, Frank Heinz, Larry Collins and Brian Roth contributed to this report.