BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Whether on the court or in the classroom, 17-year-old basketball star Caleb White was one to remember.
“One of those guys that move to the beat of his own drum,” said White’s basketball coach, Darrell Barber.
Coach Barber said White was a jokester, very charismatic and a natural born leader. Barber said to know Caleb is to love him.
“He was number one and he is number one,” said Barber.
With the number on his jersey to match, Barber say’s he knew from the moment they met he was a star.
“He just had a spirit about himself that made people gravitate towards him,” said Barber.
Unfortunately, on Thursday, Barber witnessed White’s last moments alive while playing in a pickup basketball game.
“He dribbled right there, and he fell and was gasping, gasping for air,” said Barber.
It’s an image Barber said he’ll never forget.
“To see him like that, I’ve just never experienced anything like that,” said Barber.
The incident happened on the same court he played on for years. Coach Barber said everyone there sprung into action, calling 911, performing CPR, doing everything they could to keep him alive.
White was taken to the hospital where he died. Coach Barber said he was there every step along with his parents.
“Just me being at the hospital with them and going through that ordeal with them I don’t wish that on anybody,” said Barber.
He says as a coach, it’s hard on him as White was like a son he never had.
With White’s teammates mourning his loss, Barber said the number one will remain in their hearts.
“Their hurt right now but at the end of the day every game we play he’ll have his jersey on that seat.” said Barber.
An autopsy was scheduled for Friday to determine White’s cause of death. Coach Barber said he is planning to hold a candlelight vigil in honor of him soon.