Isaiah Turner, who played football and basketball at La Salle College High School, died early on Friday afternoon, Sept. 4 following “a sudden, catastrophic medical event” after practice President Brother James L. Butler wrote in a letter to the La Salle parents and families.
Turner, 17, was a senior at La Salle College High School. According to Head Coach John Steinmetz, Turner complained to a teammate of “a pain or cramp” in his leg and requested that a teammate run ahead and bring a car closer to the field. When the teammate returned, Turner had collapsed.
Paramedics were immediately called and arrived quickly. They rushed him to Chestnut Hill Hospital, where the efforts of hospital personnel to revive him proved unsuccessful and he was later pronounced dead. The incident was sudden and catastrophic, and the cause of death is unknown pending an autopsy.
Steinmetz watched Turner grow and develop into a great student athlete on and off the field.
“The terms we always used around him was quiet, but friendly, kind and hard working,” Steinmetz said. “People referred to him as a gentle giant. I think that’s very appropriate. He was a great classmate, great teammate. He was really good with the younger guys. I know a lot them looked up to him.
“He was really good big brother. I know his younger brother looked up to him a lot. He never gave his mother a day of hard time. He was a real great son. He was a good student. Academically, he never had any issues. I found out just this weekend he’s in a Mandarin Chinese class. This is his fourth year. How cool is that? I just think that’s incredible.”
Brother James Butler, FSC, President, was very impressed with his great personality and his ability to connect with so many players and students around the school.
“Isaiah fulfilled the ‘gentle giant’ paradigm so perfectly,” said Butler in a statement. “He had a warm inviting smile and was easy to be around. Whether he was gathered with a hundred football players, a dozen basketball teammates, or a select handful of Chinese 4 students, Isaiah fit in easily, was loved, and will be deeply missed.”
Turner, who resided in the Frankford section of the city, was a defensive tackle on La Salle’s football team during the 2019 season, when the Explorers posted an 8-3 record. Turner, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound athlete, was going to play offensive guard this season since the team needed him at that spot and that was probably going to be his position in college. Steinmetz thought he would certainly play college football with his talents.
“I think he would have been a scholarship player somewhere in Division II or I-AA [Football Championship Subdivision, FCS]. He was athletic. He runs sprints harder than anybody. He would always run against linebackers and the tight ends and the fullbacks trying to beat him. He was a good basketball player. he loved playing basketball.”
Turner provided the La Salle basketball team with a lot of size and strength. Michael McKee, La Salle head boys’ basketball coach, was thrilled to be able to coach him.
“He was such a giving person,” McKee said. “He was so selfless and loving and just a great teammate. I just think he lifted everybody else around him by his action. He was more of an action guy. They say ‘actions speak louder than words.’ That’s who he was. He worked hard over the summer. He was really prepared this year to have a great year in football and basketball.”
Turner will leave a several family members and friends to cherish his memories including; his mother, Kimberly Snowden (Terrance Giddings) of Philadelphia; father, Kenyatta Turner of New York, N.Y.; brother, Khristion Brown of Philadelphia, PA; grandfather, John (the late Elaine) Snowden of Philadelphia; grandmother Sheila Boykins; grandfather, Moses Turner of Blakeslee, PA and grandmother, Evelyn Turner of Wilson, NC; three uncles Kahlil and Kahlif Snowden and Jamil Rice; two aunts Lakita Rice and Olaifa Turner; one special brother from another mother Zion Chisolm and a number of cousins, teammates and friends.
A viewing took place for relatives, friends and classmates on Friday, Sept. 11 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the campus of La Salle College High School, 8605 Cheltenham Ave., Wyndmoor. A service to celebrate Turner started at 11:30 a.m. Due to the public health issues, services was held outdoors. The interment was private.
Memorial contributions may be made in Isaiah’s name to: La Salle College High School, 8605 Cheltenham Avenue, Wyndmoor, PA 19038. The funeral arrangements were made by Moore, Snear & Ruggiero Funeral Home in Conshohocken.