A 14-year-old boy died after collapsing during football practice at Mount Saint Michael Academy in the Bronx Tuesday morning, police said.
Dominick Bess was a "well behaved" honors student who aspired for "the American dream," according to his uncle, Bertram Meade, 56.
"Dominick was a very ambitious, well behaved, well-rounded young man; very outgoing, very smart," Meade said, adding that Bess received an award for best student at his middle school graduation in June. "He loves sports, he loved basketball. He wanted to aspire to a football scholarship."
Bess was reported unresponsive on the field of the school, located at 4300 Murdock Ave. in Wakefield, around 9:30 a.m., according to cops. The teen was rushed to Montefiore Medical Center North Division where he was pronounced dead, an NYPD spokeswoman said.
Bess, an incoming freshman, collapsed during "non-contact" practice, according to a school spokeswoman.
"Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, as well as coaches, the team and our student athletes," spokeswoman Lisa Bennett said in a letter posted to Facebook and Twitter.
Standing outside of the teen's home Tuesday afternoon, Meade said Bess' mother was not doing well. "Words evade me," he added. "[Bess] just wanted to make a difference, wanted to make his family proud, his mother proud."
Bess and the other students were outside exercising in shorts and T-shirts, and were not wearing pads at the time, a source told News 12 The Bronx. School staff tried to resuscitate Bess using a defibrillator before emergency medical specialists arrived, News 12 reported.
The school will provide grief counselors for students, Bennett said.
Erica Farrell, the teen's godmother, described Bess as "the perfect kid," who was very close with his 17-year-old brother, D'andre Meade. This was the first summer the brothers had spent apart, with D'andre visiting his father in Boston, Meade said. He's now on his way home to be with the family.
"I'm at a loss -- as a family, we are going to have to pull together and try," he said, adding that Bess' own father lives in Brooklyn.
Neighbor Raymond Noel, 56, said Bess played basketball at a court across the street from his three-story brick home with his own 12-year-old son. He said Bess was a respectful, "great kid," who "never got into trouble."
Family friend Mervin Harrigan, 48, said Bess' family is from the Caribbean island of Montserrat. He said the teen was supposed to make the whole island proud. "That's the plans we had for this kid."
The city medical examiner's office will determine his cause of death.
Earlier this month, a junior football player died during a summer camp practice at Sachem High School East on Long Island. Joshua Mileto, 16, died after a log that he and four other players were carrying over their heads fell and struck him.