‘He just went to sleep and never woke up’: Community comes together after death of Whiteland football player


Ryan Latham

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WHITELAND, Ind. — The town of Whiteland is grieving the loss of a high school sophomore.

Ryan Latham was just 15 years old when he died unexpectedly Saturday morning just hours before his JV football game.

The cause of his death is still unknown, but what is known is the love he had for his community, and the love they have for him.

“He was one of a kind. Truly one of a kind,” said his mother, Carol Latham.

On Friday night, Ryan was at Whiteland High School watching the varsity team’s first game of the season. He was eager to begin his season on the JV team the next day. He never made it.

“He just went to sleep and never woke up,” Carol said. “When I went into his room because he wasn’t up, to wake him up, he was gone.”

Carol and her husband, Stephen, are now left to grieve–remembering a son they’ll never forget.

“He was the best kid in the whole wide world, he truly was,” Carol said. “He made every day brighter, every day. And he was never mad for long. He was the best kid.”

His friends at school agree: Ryan was one of a kind.

“He was funny, kind… just a person you always wanted to be around,” said teammate Alexander Garcia.

As much as he loved, he was loved back.

“I miss him,” said classmate and wrestling teammate J.J. Savin. “He’ll always be in my heart, I know that. But it’s hard. I miss him”

In times like this, a small town only seems to get bigger. Like during the game last Friday, the stands are packed, and Ryan is there still cheering them on.

“There’s nothing easy about it,” Stephen said. “But for a community to hold you, and let you just do this… grieve, it means a lot. He’ll never be forgotten.”

Ryan’s family raised money for funeral expenses thanks to community help. They’re now working on setting up a scholarship in his honor. Local brewery “Nailers” is helping out by donating $1 from every pint sold to the fund.

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