Popular High School Football Player Mourned in Riverside

By Kate Larsen and Brandon Lowrey
|  Monday, Sep 2, 2013  |  Updated 12:03 AM PDT
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Students and teachers on Sunday mourned a 16-year-old football player who collapsed on the field and later died, stunning his community in Riverside. Kate Larsen reports from Riverside for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013.

Students and teachers on Sunday mourned a 16-year-old football player who collapsed on the field and later died, stunning his community in Riverside. Kate Larsen reports from Riverside for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013.

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High School Football Player Mourned at School

A high school football player who collapsed on the field and later died was remembered as a friendly and popular student with a "heart of a lion." Kate Larsen reports from Riverside for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2013.
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Students and teachers on Sunday mourned a 16-year-old football player who collapsed on the field and later died, stunning his community in Riverside.

Tyler Lewellen, 16, was a standout football player who didn't hang out in just one spot during lunch breaks at Arlington High School in Riverside, like most of his classmates did. He moved around from table to table, his friendliness ignoring the boundaries of social cliques.

He died Tuesday, five days after he collapsed during football practice.

"He fit in with everybody," said Phyllis Coate, an Arlington High School teacher. "We talk about the heart of a lion. I think that's true for him. ... I was honored to be his teacher."

Students from neighboring high schools came to show their support for Arlington High School.

On Sunday afternoon, banners and posters posted all around campus celebrated #33 - Tyler's number.

A nighttime vigil included the release of several green and white balloons in his honor. The green balloons were at his mother's request, because green is the color of brain injury, which is what Tyler died from.

memorial medical fund was set up for Tyler's family.

His mother said that his organs were being donated to save the lives of others.

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