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November 30, 2011

Minn. teen dies after playing basketball

By Paul Levy
Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Kareen Hopkins was a "happy-go-lucky" Anoka High School student who teased the principal about his graying beard, had a smile for everyone and had big plans that included college, Principal Mike Farley remembered on Monday.

Hopkins, an 11th-grader with a pre-existing heart condition, died suddenly after playing basketball at the Andover Community Center/YMCA on Saturday night, Farley said.

"He was just an amazing kid who didn't hang with one group," Farley said. "A good student and good citizen, he touched a lot of different kids with his positive energy, his fun-loving nature and that smile."

Stunned students -- 30 to 40 at a time -- filed into classrooms and offices to visit with grief counselors on Monday, Farley said. Many were aware of Hopkins' heart condition, but that didn't ease the shock, Farley said.

Hopkins, 16, couldn't play competitive sports because of the condition and was involved in several school clubs, Farley said. But he loved playing basketball and was usually able to monitor his condition.

Early Saturday evening, the Ramsey teenager collapsed while playing and suffered a seizure, according to the Anoka County Sheriff's Office. An Andover firefighter was administering CPR when sheriff's deputies arrived. Hopkins was taken to Mercy Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Farley said he learned of Hopkins' death Saturday night and met with school staff members before Monday's classes.

"Today our focus was on staff and kids, dealing with grief," Farley said. "But our thoughts are with Kareen's family. The amazing outpouring of support is a tribute to his popularity."

Farley said that Hopkins lived with his grandmother and siblings. Memorial arrangements were pending on Monday night.

Copyright 2011 Star Tribune

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