Submitted by SCAFoundation on Fri, 04/29/2011 - 12:00am

CHICAGO--Paul Simmons, a 17-year-old senior at Marist Catholic High School, collapsed on the school gym playing the game he loved Thursday night, dying hours later from an undetected genetic heart condition.


Simmons was at the school for a senior class “lock-in,” where the students were allowed to stay overnight at school. He was playing a pick-up game of basketball with his varsity teammates that night when he suddenly fell to the court, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.


An autopsy revealed that Simmons suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It’s an uncommon condition where the heart muscles thicken, one that can go undetected for a lifetime. But it can also disrupt the rhythm of the heart, leading to sudden collapse and death.


“The hearts of our seniors, our faculty and the entire Marist community are heavy as we come to terms with the painful sadness of Paul’s death,” the school wrote in a press release. “Paul was a dynamic, outgoing individual who beat tough odds to become a successful student athlete at Marist High School. Paul had a winning smile, a vibrant personality and a tremendous work ethic.”


He was slated to attend Spring Hill College in Alabama -- in fact, he planned to take a road trip down there in the Dodge Challenger his family recently bought him as an advance graduation present, the Chicago Tribune writes.