Maurice Davenport, a 14-year-old who had been abandoned by both his parents as a young boy, was killed in a freak softball accident in Chicago Wednesday.
The tri-sport athlete fell on a softball he had caught during his school's first game of the season, falling chest-first, then asking for a glass of water before collapsing on the field in Roseland -- the gritty South Side neighborhood where President Barack Obama had worked as a community organizer.
"I was like a father to him," said Booker Hatcher, 27, whose mother had raised Maurice and his four other siblings. "It was just the sudden impact. He made the catch and the ball was between the ground and his shirt. He threw up and then his eyes rolled back and he passed."
"There was no trauma to his body, he was very peaceful," Hatcher told ABCNews.com. "He went through a lot of stuff with his mother and father not being there. But he was peaceful."
Maurice was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center at 6:11 p.m. Hospital officials said the boy arrived unresponsive and an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
"It was so unusual," said hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Johnson. "We are a level-one trauma center and we have seen sudden death when kids are training and that is something genetic. This is so different and we haven't ever seen anything like this. I've only seen it in the movies."
According to Dr. James Doherty, who treated Maurice, the boy may have died from commotio cordis, a sudden heart rhythm disturbance that is most often seen in young male athletes who receive a blow to the chest.
Other athletes have died after sustaining injuries from a fast ball to the chest, but doctors have reported similar sudden death incidents with an air-filled soccer ball, a hockey puck and a lacrosse ball, said Doherty, who is the trauma director at Advocate Christ Medical Center.
"It can happen even with the velocity of pitched baseballs at 48 miles per hour, the mid-level of the batting cage," he told ABCNews.com. "So theoretically, it doesn't have to be a Nolan Ryan [Texas Ranger who pitched at 100 m.p.h.] fast ball."
"The critical issue is that it occurs at a susceptible moment in the heart cycle," said Doherty.
"The hospital did all they could," said Maurice's cousin, Hatcher, who lives with the large extended family.
Deborah Hatcher, who works as a caregiver, had raised Maurice since he was 7, according to her son. The boy had no known previous heart problems.
"She had three biological children of her own," said Hatcher. "They all got degrees and then she started over with her sister's kids. My mother called me from California to help her with kids. They were in foster care and had no money."
"She raised them herself and I left school early to help," said Hatcher, who now works as an operation's apprentice at People's Gas. "She took care of all five of them in a two-bedroom apartment."
The day of the accident, Maurice had switched from shortstop to outfield, because he was one of the few players able to catch the hits, his teammates told the Chicago Tribune.
Their school, Garrett A. Morgan Elementary, had just organized a softball team.