Mississippi football player dies hours after practice

Mississippi football player dies hours after practice
(Source: Facebook)
(Source: Facebook)

PONTOTOC COUNTY, MS (WMC) - A student at North Pontotoc High School in Mississippi died suddenly just hours after finishing football practice.

A flag flies at half-staff above the school's football field in honor of rising senior Ty Rayford.

"It's overwhelming," family friend Pat Young said. "I feel for the family. I can only imagine what they might be going through at a time like this."

Rayford's friends and family describe him as a gentle giant. He stood 6-foot-5 and weighed 330 pounds.

His death came as a shock to those who knew him. He was just three weeks away from playing the first game of the season.

"This is a real tough time for them right now," Young said. "I'm just praying for them. I just ask everybody to be doing the same."

The coroner is still working to determine how Rayford died.

His family was too heartbroken to speak publicly Tuesday.

Instead, his principal, Brian Sutton, released the following statement:

"The North Pontotoc Family is saddened by the passing of one our students, Ty Rayford.  Ty would have been a senior at North Pontotoc High School this year.  His passing was sudden and unexpected.  Ty was big in stature, but humble and kind in his heart toward all those he came in contact with.  Ty will be greatly missed by his senior classmates, fellow students, teachers and family.  We pray for guidance during the dark days ahead and for grace to carry us on.  Our sincere prayers are with his family, friends and the entire North Pontotoc family as they mourn the loss of this outstanding young man. "

The school district will honor Rayford's memory Tuesday night:

"There will be a prayer vigil tonight at 8 p.m. in honor of Ty Rayford on the football field at North Pontotoc. Everyone is welcome to attend. Thank you for thinking of us during this time and please continue to keep Ty's family, the football players, the coaches, and students in your thoughts and prayers."

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