John Hay football team returns to practice after death of their captain

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CLEVELAND, Ohio - John Hay High School football players returned to practice Monday afternoon with heavy hearts after losing a team captain over the weekend.

Michael Chappman passed away early Sunday morning at MetroHealth Medical Center from complications attributed to a gunshot wound.

“They’re taking it hard,” said Rodney Decipeda, Hornets Head Coach. “All of us are taking it hard.”

The 17-year-old quarterback and all around “good kid” was shot in broad daylight on July 6th at a park on Ansel Road in Cleveland. Michael’s friend was also shot, but not critically injured.

Doctors said the bullet injured Michaels spine, paralyzing him from the waist down.

A diagnosis Michael refused to accept.

During a hospital interview with Fox 8 reporter Suzanne Stratford he said, “Me not walking...I don’t think about that, I know I’m gonna walk again.”

He was however concerned about not playing football and letting his teammates down.

“We’re like a family,” said Michael.

Coaches and players rushed to his bedside Saturday when they learned from Mike's mother he’d taken a turn for the worse. His attitude remained positive until the very end.

“I couldn’t believe his attitude. It was the most positive attitude I’ve seen," said Coach Decipeda.

Condolences continued to come in from other teams and players across Northeast Ohio Monday.

The Hornets told Fox 8 they plan to dedicate the season to Michael.

They’ll be wearing his number 10 on their helmets and Mike's good friend, Javaughn Williams, is going to wear his jersey.

“He’s like you need to wear #10 for me,” said Javaughn. “And I’m like you got to promise me you’ll be at game one, and that was our little promise...and I know he’s gonna be there, he’s gonna keep our promise.”

Police are investigating the drive-by shooting and still searching for suspects.

The family had started a GoFundMe page to pay for Michael's rehabilitation and treatment. The money will likely now be used to pay for his funeral.

More coverage on this story, here. 

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