LAWRENCEVILLE — Jordan Bracken-Howley didn’t feel well Sunday. The 17-year-old was nauseous, complaining of a headache. A rising senior on Apalachee High School’s football team, he took some medicine and went to bed at his stepfather’s home in Lawrenceville.
Monday morning, Bracken-Howley’s father went to rouse him at 7 a.m. Time for workouts.
The teen didn’t wake up.
“(The family) is just trying to get some answers, some closure just trying to figure out what went on,” Apalachee head coach Shane Davis said early Tuesday.
That was before an autopsy was performed by the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office. Late Tuesday afternoon, the family got news that Bracken-Howley died because of a pituitary tumor at the base of his brain.
“Tumors grow,” chief forensic investigator Ted Bailey said. “This one had some bleeding and was likely causing some increased pressure on the brain.”
According to an incident report filed by Lawrenceville police, Bracken-Howley had a headache and vomited at about 11 p.m. Sunday night before going to sleep around 1:30 a.m. His stepfather reportedly heard him coughing at about 4 a.m. When emergency personnel arrived at the home on Stone Mountain St. at about 7:10 a.m., “there was a visible foam that appeared to have come from Jordan’s nose,” police said.
His stepfather told police that Bracken-Howley had “sweated a lot” the night of the incident and was “more clumsy than usual on Saturday while at work.”
At practice as recently as Friday, Bracken-Howley played offensive and defensive line for the Wildcats. He wasn’t a starter, but embodied everything the Apalachee program stood for, Davis said.
“He was the first one out there when we would call for a scout team,” Davis said. “He was dependable, he was always there, always at workouts. He worked extremely hard in the weight room and on the practice field. He was a kid who seemed very proud to be a part of our program.”
Davis said his staff didn’t find out about Bracken-Howley’s death until after Monday’s workouts. While they’ve been texting and calling players non-stop since then, Wednesday morning will be the first time they meet in person.
Unsure Tuesday of what he would say to address the team, Davis said local pastors and other counselors would likely be present at Wednesday’s practice.
“Kids are resilient,” he said. “A lot of times they’re a whole lot more resilient than adults are.”