Buford community remembers young athlete

Jeremy Nelson

Jeremy Nelson

BUFORD -- Times of grief sometimes have a silver lining -- the emotional moments are known to bring people together.

That was the case at Buford Middle School on Tuesday. It was the first day back from holiday break and the first time students have crowded the halls since the tragic death of 12-year-old Jeremy Nelson.

"It was a day of love and support," said Principal Rachel Adams following Tuesday's classes "A beautiful day for our faculty and students, because we all came together as one to help each other get through this."

An autopsy completed Monday afternoon found that the seventh-grader who died Saturday following a basketball game had fluid in his lungs.

The Gwinnett County Medical Examiner's Office said Nelson's condition demonstrated "marked pulmonary edema."

Nelson collapsed Saturday during a Gwinnett Basketball League all-star game at the Suwanee Sports Academy and died later at Gwinnett Medical Center.

Gregory B. Levett and Sons Funeral Home -- North Gwinnett Chapel in Buford is handling the service. The date and time of the service have not yet been announced.

Nelson, a talented, 6-foot-4 athlete, was beloved by his classmates at Buford Middle School both on and off the basketball court.

"Jeremy was a very kind young man and an excellent student-athlete," Buford City Schools superintendent Geye Hamby said in a school release. "Jeremy had a presence in the hallways and on the court. He was a young man that always shared kindness with others and one that the students enjoyed being around. His very pleasant demeanor will be missed by all."

Though his father Herb was a football player at Grambling, Nelson preferred basketball. He played in the GBL and with the Buford seventh-graders.

Nelson has a twin sister, Jessica, who also plays basketball for Buford's seventh-grade team, and an older sister Kristina, a senior on the Wolves' high school team and a Notre Dame signee.

"He's a special kid from a special family, with a strong Christian background," said Adam Gower, seventh-grade basketball coach.

Added Gower: "All his peers looked up to him in the classroom, in the halls and on the court. When he spoke or had a question about history or a basketball play, he had everyone's attention. Jeremy was a great competitor, even if he was not sure of an answer his hand would go up first. Several times in the classroom, Jeremy would be very smooth by talking basketball to get me off subject."

In less than a full calendar year, the Buford community has dealt with multiple deaths to beloved figures, beginning with Buford grad and Wolves football coach Ryan Daniel. He collapsed during a pickup basketball game in January 2012 and died.

Buford student Adam Smith died in similar fashion during a September basketball workout. Former Wolves football player Devin Durden was in a motorcycle accident and passed away in October.

"It's hard to think about what the community has absorbed in a short period of time," Buford athletic director Dexter Wood said. "I don't even know the words to describe the emotions you feel. Of course right now, we're not thinking about us. We're thinking about what happened to a 12-year-old and thinking about his family."

-- Sports Editor Will Hammock contributed to this report