Sixth grader Erik Robinson, 12, was found in full cardiac arrest on April 20. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead two days later.
Police say he had been playing the game in which a cord or a rope is used to cut off the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. The idea is to produce a light-headed high, but instead Erik was asphyxiated.
Local news from across Southern California
Family pictures show Erik had a ready smile. Pictures posted on a memorial page show a child with lots of personality. Although the school's superintendent sent home a letter with students announcing the death, he did not reveal its cause.
"It said that he had an accident and his brain stopped working," said classmate Denita Kiya.
Seventh grader Sean Farkas, who played ball with Erik, described him as a "really nice kid," adding, "parents are trying to keep it quiet and stuff, but kids are just saying a lot of stuff."
Perhaps, they don't want to encourage anyone to emulate this deadly game. A Centers for Disease Control study two years ago reported 11 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 18 had tried it.
There is a memorial in Pacific Palisades for Erik scheduled for Thursday evening. His mother was not giving any interviews Thursday, but she plans to begin speaking out next week in the hopes of preventing similar accidents.