Navy Football Player Dies After 3 Days in Coma

Midshipman Will McKamey

A Naval Academy football player died Tuesday night, three days after he was airlifted from the football team's practice fields, Naval Academy officials said.

Will McKamey, 19, a plebe slotback from Knoxville, Tenn., was in a coma for three days after undergoing surgery to relieve a brain clot at University of Maryland's Baltimore Shock Trauma Unit.

"During this most difficult of times, first and foremost, our prayers and thoughts turn to Randy, Kara and their beautiful family," said Navy Head Football Coach Ken Niumatalolo. "Our deepest and most sincere condolences go out to their entire family and friends. As our Navy football family mourns the loss of one of our brothers, we also celebrate and honor his life. He loved his family, his friends and his teammates."

McKamey was airlifted off the field Saturday after he collapsed near the sideline. He was hit on the previous play while carrying the ball. He got up and headed toward the sideline before he collapsed.

This was not the first time McKamey suffered a head injury on a football field. In his senior year at Grace Christian Academy, he collapsed during a two-point conversion in a game. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was treated for bleeding and swelling of the brain.

McKamey did not undergo surgery and he sat out the rest of his senior season.

Before his injury his senior year, McKamey was a decorated high school football player. He won Tennessee's Class A Mr. Football Back award his senior season at Grace Christian Academy, where he was coached by his father, Randy McKamey. Will tallied more than 2,000 combined rushing and receiving yards and scored 28 touchdowns.

Will's mother, Kara, wrote on Facebook on Sunday to update the condition of her son and describe the lengthy process the family went through before deciding to allow Will to play football at the Naval Academy.

"Since his prior accident in 2012 Will has been seen by four different neurosurgeons, and had 4-6 CAT scans and MRIs to rule out any issue and clear him for contact. After his prior incident he went without any contact for over nine months to just be safe," Kara McKamey wrote.

"We feel obviously there is more going on in his brain than we could have ever detected. I want to be clear that the Navy football program nor us as his parents would have ever allowed him to be in a dangerous situation," she wrote two days before Will died.

Kara McKamey also wrote in her Facebook post that her son "did not sustain a bad hit or unusual or extreme contact." She wrote that Navy football coaches had "poured through the films of practice and seen nothing more than Will carrying the football normally, doing what he truly loves."

Naval Academy officials have not said what steps, if any, were taken to clear McKamey to play on the football team.

McKamey's family, friends and teammates remained at his bedside in the hospital over the past three days after he arrived at the Shock Trauma Unit.

The Naval Academy is providing grief counselors and support to midshipmen, faculty and staff. Naval Academy officials said the family has not yet set funeral arrangements.

"We are all so very heartbroken by the death of Midshipman Will McKamey," said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael Miller. "This is devastating news for his family, his classmates, his teammates and the entire Naval Academy family. We offer our deepest condolences to Will's family, friends and shipmates in the wake of this tragedy."

-- Michael Hoffman can be reached at

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