Milford student athlete dies unexpectedly, had no known illnesses

- In Milford, a high school student suddenly dies. The popular teenager played several sports and had no known illnesses.

Now his grieving classmates, teachers and coaches are wondering what happened to the 15-year-old sophomore Cole Painter and why.

"It's the phone call no one wants as a teacher, principal as a community," said Milford principal Kevin McKenna.

Painter was a member of the football, baseball and basketball teams.

"He's that student that everybody wants in their school," McKenna said. "A good kid, really supportive family, involved in athletics."

Painter died on Saturday. According to his obituary, he passed away in the care of his loving family after a sudden medical crisis. However, The Oakland County Medical Examiner's Office says the cause is still pending.

A few hours before his passing, Painter was at basketball practice. His coach talked about Painter's impact on the team.

"His presence alone was gravitating," said Coach David Gilbert, Milford varsity basketball coach. "He had a gravitating personality that made everybody feel valued."

On Monday, school leaders said a support team was put in place to help students handle the grieving process. The student body was also allowed to show their support for Painter.

"I'd say 90% of our students are wearing red and that's because it's Cole's favorite color," McKenna said. "Lakeland is another school in the district, they were pushing out on Twitter and Facebook their support and that they also wanted to wear red Monday."

The basketball team's season opener is set for next week and another tribute is being planned.

"We will honor him," said Gilbert. "We will honor him throughout. Our whole season will be played for him."

Even in his absence, school leaders say Cole Painter is teaching them an important lesson about life.

"That family piece extends beyond your immediate family and the people you live with," Gilbert said. "But our basketball family, our community family. He's teaching us that right now."

Painter's funeral is scheduled for Thursday. 

The family is also asking that memorial contributions be made to Milford Athletics in Loving Memory of Cole Painter: Milford High School, 2380 S. Milford Road Highland MI, 48357.


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