Thursday, May 12, 2016

Teen paralyzed playing football dies

May 12, 2016

Donnovan Hill, the California teenager whose paralyzing football injury led to increased safety protections for young players after he sued a youth league, has died, a lawyer for his family said Thursday.

Hill died Wednesday at an Orange County hospital of complications from surgery related to management of his injury, attorney Robert Carey told The Associated Press. He was 18.

Hill was 13 when he fractured his spine during a 2011 Pop Warner championship game in Laguna Hills, south of Los Angeles. It left him with minimal use of his arms and no independent movement below his chest.

Hill and his mother, Crystal Dixon, claimed in a 2014 lawsuit against the youth league that the teen used a dangerous headfirst tackling technique promoted by his coaches.

The suit alleged that Hill was punished when he objected to the technique in practice and that he used it in games with no repercussions. In an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" in 2013, his coaches offered conflicting accounts on whether they encouraged headfirst tackling.

Head coach Sal Hernandez said he warned Hill against using the technique, but assistant coach Manny Martinez defended its use.


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