South Carolina High School Football Player, 18, Dies During Operation to Repair ACL

A rising high school football player from South Carolina who was set to play in college has died from complications that arose during an operation, local news outlets have reported.

Nick Dixon, a talented senior athlete at Spartanburg High School, died on Friday afternoon during surgery to repair his ACL and meniscus, the Spartanburg School District confirmed in a post on their Facebook page.

“He excelled on the turf and off, contributing to the team and to his community,” reads the statement from the district, which did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. “Anyone who knows Nick describes him as everyone’s best friend. A talented and highly respected student-athlete. As grieves this unthinkable loss, we ask Nick and his family be remembered in prayer.”

The 18-year-old played linebacker, running back and defensive line for the Vikings, and had just competed in the “Shrine Bowl,” a game that features the most prominent high school football players in the Carolinas.

Dixon had also earned a scholarship to Wingate University and committed to the school the night before his death, WLTX reported. The Spartanburg coroner did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

“I’m broken-hearted that I’m not going to shake his hand in May and give him that diploma,” Superintendent Russell Booker told the news station.

Dixon’s teammates remembered him as a friendly competitor.

“Every day we saw each other, it was ‘Who’s going on their butt first?’” Tyshun Moultrie told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. “We argued, but it was out of brotherly love.”

Moultrie told the outlet that Dixon and he have been close throughout their time in grade school.

“I grew up with Nick,” he added. “I’ve known him for seven years. He was my best friend, my brother, my buddy, my ride-or-die … He was my everything, man.”

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A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family to help pay for funeral and burial expenses and has raised at least $17,000 in three days.

“As a principal, if you could pick one person in your school that represents everything you want that school to be about, I think Nick is in that mold,” principal Jeff Stevens told the Herald-Journal.

“He was a great student. He was an awesome athlete and very much a competitor,” he continued. “But more than that, he could walk into any room that you were in and have a conversation with everybody… He would light up a room.”

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