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March 13, 2011

Roma 2012 Garza collapses, dies

During a month that has gained national attention for high school athletes dying on the basketball court, south Texas was hit its own set of tragic news over the weekend.

Robert Garza, a junior at Roma High School, collapsed and died early Saturday afternoon during an AAU basketball tournament game in Austin. Garza was 16.

According to his AAU coach Arnold Martinez, Garza collapsed during a timeout minutes into a game for his team, the South Texas Hoopsters. He had no known health issues, and the cause of his death is still unknown.

Garza's death comes only eight days after Wes Leonard, a 16-year-old basketball player from Michigan's Fennville High School, collapsed and died after hitting a game-winning shot in overtime for his team. Leonard died of cardiac arrest from an enlarged heart on March 3.

According to the McAllen Monitor, Garza collapsed a little after 11 a.m. at the Eastside Memorial High School gym. Paramedics attempted to revive Garza but were unable to do so. He was pronounced dead around 12:30 p.m.

"During pregame warm-ups, he was dunking the ball and laughing with his teammates. Everything looked good," Hoopsters coach Arnold Martinez told the Monitor. "It's unexplainable. He got a glass of water. He high-fived [teammate] Pablo Adame, and then it just happened. He collapsed."

Garza was a rising 2012 on the Roma basketball team, which played in UIL District 32-4A. As a small forward, he was a second-team all-district selection this season.

Roma coach Abelardo Escobar described Garza as somebody who was in great shape and "ate all the right things." Despite being something of a quiet guy away from the basketball court, he was a respected athlete around south Texas' Rio Grande Valley. He also was considered a model teammate.

"It's a sad day for Valley kids that play basketball," Martinez said.



Damon Sayles is the Senior Writer for TexasHoops.com. Follow Damon and the TexasHoops.com staff on Twitter and on Facebook.
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