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Football community, president mourn loss of Warner University player

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay university is in shock following the death of a beloved football player.

Theodore “Boobie” Hammonds, 23, from Miami Gardens, collapsed after a non-contact drill during practice at Warner University in Lake Wales Tuesday.

“He had just ran a beautiful route, ran down the sideline, caught the ball for a touchdown. Everything seemed to be fine. He came back and I just saw him just drop on the ground,” said Jonas Small, an offensive lineman, who directed emergency responders to Hammonds when an ambulance arrived.

Hammonds died at Lake Wales Medical Center.

An autopsy was performed on Wednesday. Hammonds’ cause of death is pending toxicology results, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Small said Hammonds always had a smile on his face and could light up a room.

“He was literally amazing. I know he’s a better place, I know he is. But it sucks right now because we’re definitely going to miss him,” said Small. “He was a brother to me. I loved I’m like a brother. He treated me like family when I came in here.”

Students, teammates, faculty members have been joining in prayer and will be holding a special service Thursday at the campus chapel.

“Things like this really aren’t supposed to happen. It’s a tough thing for a campus community, like Warner, but this is when we stand firm on our faith,” said Warner University president Dr. David Hoag, through tears. “And we come together as a community.”

Hammonds had dreams of playing football professionally and was chosen to be a member of the NAIA all-star team.

“We were proud of him for that opportunity. So, sad that he won’t be able to participate in that,” said Kirk Talley, head football coach. “Football is a safe haven for these young men.”

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