‘He battled until the very end’: Shock after quarterback, 18, dies
A promising American footballer's family have spoken of their grief following the announcement of his death at the age of 18.
Quarterback Robbie Roper, a highly-rated athlete at Roswell High School in Georgia, was a model pupil, his former coach has said after he died following routine surgery.
The youngster had been considering his options for his next team after reportedly receiving offers from Massachusetts, Morehead State, Morgan State and Western Carolina.
"I've tried to put into words how this feels and how much of an impact this young man had on myself and our program," Roswell boss Chris Prewett said, adding that Roper had been hospitalized on Sunday.
December 22, 2021
"I've been fortunate enough to know Robbie for close to two years. I remember the random conversations walking through the field house, I remember talking about coverage, blitzes and so on.
"I remember hearing your plans about the future and being so excited to see you achieve your dreams. I remember your jokes during practice.
"What people won't see is the endless amount of work you would do behind the scenes to get ready for games and practices, the hours watching film, the time you spent with younger quarterbacks, the times you read to elementary school students and spent time talking with youth football players.
Continue to keep the Roper family in your prayers as well as his teammates, friends, and our Roswell community pic.twitter.com/xWo0oinxDJ— Chris Prewett (@caprewett) December 23, 2021
"Our program is forever changed and I'll make sure that your story lives on through these stories.
"You were taken from this world way too soon. Walking by your locker will never be the same and I'm glad you're in a better place and in perfect health with the ultimate healer.
"I will make sure I hug my girls a little tighter and love on our players a little bit more."
Here is Robbie Roper @robbieroper2022 when he was a sophomore taking care of business in overtime keep fighting! Prayers for you and your family pic.twitter.com/jmiUWFQL3u— Coach Lee Mangieri (@Coachmangieri) December 22, 2021
We watched in the playoffs and saw that Robbie Roper is a fighter. The entire @High5Sports family is praying for Robbie and his family. pic.twitter.com/vSohugTFf2— Cody Chaffins (@Cody_Fox5) December 22, 2021
NFL side the Atlanta Falcons said they were "saddened" by the announcement, and Roper's family called him their "biggest joy".
"We are proud of the young man he has become," they said of the 6ft 4in sportsman. "He will be missed by his friends and family dearly.”
Prewett told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Robbie fought hard and battled until the very end like he did everything else.
"Robbie did everything in life with a contagious, positive and energetic attitude that will be missed by all who knew him."