UAB Football Signee Jamari Smith Dies at Age 18

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IIMay 28, 2020

A group of footballs waits for warmups prior to an NCAA college football game between North Carolina State and the Ball State in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

Lee High School class of 2020 graduate Jamari Smith died from drowning in a lake at Chewacla State Park in Auburn, Alabama, on Wednesday.

AL.com's Carol Robinson wrote:

"Smith was located underwater in the lake. Advanced life support measures were immediately initiated, and he was rushed to the emergency room of East Alabama Medical Center. Efforts to revive Smith were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead in the emergency room at 6:05 p.m.

"[Coroner Bill] Harris said Smith was with friends swimming at the lake when he apparently became tired and went under. 911 was called as the friends attempted to locate Smith."

The 18-year-old starred in basketball and football at Lee High School in Montgomery, Alabama. The basketball team confirmed Smith's death, while others mourned him:

Lee-Montgomery Varsity 🏀 @bball_lee

It is with heavy hearts that we must confirm the passing of our beloved Jamari “Chop” Smith @jayy_primo23. We ask for you to pray for his family. We also ask that you give them privacy at this time. Chop we love you always. https://t.co/aYIJlq1ttE

Brandon Dean @BDean_AD

Rest well Jamari.....Gone too soon 😢Your mother was crazy about you.... https://t.co/2D66H7gOTn

Mack Wilson @5mackwilson1

REST IN PEACE YOUNG KING. The city lost a good one today. 🙏🏾😓 #BallinPeace https://t.co/UWaRrX2y8K

Smith had signed with the University of Alabama at Birmingham to play football in early February:

Lee Generals @theleegenerals

WR-Jamari “Chop” Smith signs with University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)!!!! Congrats Jamari we wish you the best of luck!!!! https://t.co/p4feVAuWbm

Later that month, Smith and the Lee Generals captured the school's first state championship by defeating Mountain Brook 40-38. Smith had hit a free throw with 18.2 seconds remaining in regulation to help secure the victory, and he was overcome with emotion afterward:

Madison Jaggars @madison_jaggars

. @jayy_primo23 overcome with emotions after winning the championship! “I just won my first state championship oh my god!!!” “Mom, I just won my first state championship!!” This is what pure joy looks like! @ALNewsNetwork #LACEUP https://t.co/U3Wt36YR33

Stephen Gunter @Stephen_Gunter

A parade on Ann Street next week? What do you think @MPSAthletics and @theleegenerals. I think @jayy_primo23 likes that idea! https://t.co/4mxFebQuJt

No foul play is suspected in Smith's death, per Robinson, though an investigation is underway.