Funeral held for New Jersey high school football player who suffered fatal injury during game

ByEyewitness News via WABC logo
Friday, September 30, 2022
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A funeral was held Thursday for Xavier McClain, a Linden, New Jersey high school football player who died weeks after he was injured in a game. Anthony Johnson has the story.

LINDEN, New Jersey (WABC) -- A funeral was held Thursday for Xavier McClain, a New Jersey high school football player who died weeks after he was injured in a game.

Funeral services were held Thursday morning at the Krowicki McCracken Funeral Home in Linden.

McClain, a freshman at Linden High School, died after he suffered a serious injury during a game on September 9 against Woodbridge High School.

The final farewell for the young football player brought an outpouring of family and friends.

His death has touched football families everywhere. His sister says he wouldn't want tears -- just fond memories.

"I know he wouldn't want me sitting here crying over him, I know he would want us celebrating the life that he had, doing better than him, trying to pursue all of our dreams," sister Alysha Martinez said.

The line of cars left the funeral home for a final ride past Linden High School and some crossed their arms to make an X for Xavier.

The mayor called the service a fitting tribute to a young man who will be missed.

"It's so unnatural when the child leaves before the parents or when the child passes anytime it's just so unnatural and it really hits the heart very hard," Mayor Derek Armstead said.

Family and friends also gathered Wednesday evening for a wake for the 16-year-old.

McClain's parents were distraught as they spoke out following his death last week.

"I'm just going to try to put my life back together, and I just hope this don't happen to no other kids playing ball," Norm McClain said.

"I'm hurting. I lost my boy. I Iove my son," Lisa McClain said. "He's so loved. He's got a lot family. And it's not fair that I'm burying my son."

The pair, who say they normally attended all of their son's games, regret the fact that it was the one game they missed.

"We've never missed a game, but this one we missed," Lisa said.

"And I've got to live with that. I wasn't at that game. I'll have to live with that," Norm said.

Norm had coached his son since he was 5 and watched him grow as a football player.

As the Linden community tries to come to grips with this football tragedy, the McClains struggle to stay strong, but realize it's going to take time.

"That boy was loved. He was in every sport, social, bright, gifted and talented. And I'm never going to see him graduate high school," Lisa said.

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