“Star Ifeacho will last forever”: Dunbar community honors student who collapsed and died

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- This week a Lexington community continues mourning a life cut short. What was supposed to be a night of celebration Monday turned into a vigil for a student athlete who collapsed and died last week while playing basketball. The end of the school year is supposed to be a time to celebrate growth and achievements. That was the original plan for the Dunbar Boys’ Basketball team Monday night to celebrate at an awards banquet.

Instead, they tried to hold back tears while honoring the star they say will never stop shining.

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In the gym where 15-year-old Star Ifeacho learned and played, where he was before he died, hundreds of students, staff, and community members came together for comfort Monday.

The team was supposed to be celebrating at a banquet. Head coach Scott Chalk says he knew his team was not ready for that. Instead, they honored Star.

“He loved all. Everyone loved him. His life was brilliant,” Star’s Godfather and coach, John Logan, said to the crowd.

Coach Chalk says Wednesday, Star told staff he was feeling light-headed during open gym. After going with the trainer for help, he collapsed. Chalk says staff tried to revive him, but he later died at UK Hospital.

“The people I worry about the most are the kids that were here and actually witnessed what happened. You’re just not ready for that as a kid,” Chalk said.

No one was ready, including Logan. He says Star dreamt of playing college ball.

“I wasn’t gonna let him down. This is a letter of intent to play college basketball,” Chalk said, presenting the letter to the applauding crowd.

Another honor, there will never be another number thirteen at Star’s middle school, Beaumont. Star’s number will be retired and hang from the rafters forever, just like his memory.

“Stars last forever. Star Ifeacho will last forever,” Logan said.

Coach Chalk tells ABC 36 he has been talking to Star’s family. He says they are making it hour by hour.  They sent a statement Monday evening. It reads:

“Our family would like to thank the community for the overwhelming support. All of the acts of kindness and donations have been very humbling to us. Star touched so many lives that we weren’t even aware of. He was very proud to call Lexington home and always felt loved and supported by so many people here. We lost our son and brother way too soon. We still do not know the cause of his untimely death, but know that we will seek answers and will work to make sure that if possible no one else has to endure this type of tragedy in the future.”  – The Ifeacho Family

Monday’s vigil is just one of several events this week allowing people to say goodbye.

On Wednesday, Star’s teammates will serve as honorary pallbearers during a celebration of life.

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Veronica Jean Seltzer joins ABC 36 as Anchor/Reporter. On most weekdays, you will see her reporting the news. VJ hails from a small horse farm outside New York City and most recently comes from South Bend, Indiana where she reported for the CBS and Fox affiliates. VJ holds a Master of Science in Journalism degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University. Her passion for journalism runs deep. It began as she studied graffiti as an ancient form of communication in Athens, Greece. While a student journalist in Morocco, she learned her most important journalistic lesson: good stories are about people. VJ loves life in and around Lexington. She feels most at home among horses and a diverse community of fascinating people. She enjoys reporting during the week and on the weekend she strives to bring her neighbors the news that matters most to them. VJ enjoys going to neighborhood events, exploring, horseback riding, skiing, sailing, and good movies. Look for her out and about in the community! VJ invites you to reach out to her with story ideas or just to say hello! Find her on Facebook at Veronica Jean Seltzer ABC 36, tweet her @VJS_ABC36, or email her at VSeltzer@wtvq.com. She looks forward to hearing from you!