High school football player commits to college, dies next day in ACL surgery

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Friends, family, and entire Upstate school district are mourning the death of a student-athlete.

Spartanburg High School Senior Nick Dixon died Friday.

“He had a very bright personality,” said family friend Primes Woodruff. “Had a really, really big heart.”

It’s heart those who know him said he showed on and off the football field.

“Nick was a wonderful student, wonderful athlete,” said Spartanburg School District 7 Superintendent Dr. Russell Booker. “Nick was part of our Viking early college program early on his high school career, which means he was already earning some college credits.”

Dixon played on the school’s football team where Booker said he was a captain and a motivator. The 18-year-old also competed in the Shrine Bowl with the best young athletes in the Carolinas.

“Which means he was one of the most elite athletes in his position,” Booker said.

The community is now mourning the loss.

“He took to this community so strongly – not just as an athlete but the pride he found in this community,” said Woodruff. “It’s always a shock to people when someone so young and so vibrant loses their life.”

Woodruff said Dixon went into surgery Friday morning to address a torn ACL and meniscus, but suffered complications.

“They worked to revive him,” said Woodruff.

The coroner says he died at Spartanburg Medical Center a little after 3 p.m. Friday.

“His mom’s taking it, you know, hard as expected. His stepfather is taking it hard, brothers and sisters,” said Woodruff.

Dixon’s school family is feeling the devastation too.

“I’m broken-hearted that I’m not going to shake his hand in May and give him that diploma,” said  Booker. “As we have 2,000 students coming to school on Monday they’re going to be heartbroken.”

It’s the broken hearts they said can carry on Dixon’s legacy.

“Something they can take from the life of Nick Dixon is to always put your heart into everything you do,” said Woodruff.

A vigil for Dixon is planned for Sunday at 6 p.m. on the football field. The school will also have grief counselors.

“You can tell a lot about our young people with what they post on social media and if you take some time and look at his, all you will find is him encouraging different people,” said Booker. “His last post –  he posted something that said, ‘not done yet.’ The was encouraging somebody back in November where he says “God always has a plan.” I want all of us to take heart in Nick’s words that God always has a plan.”

The superintendent says Dixon actually committed Thursday night to play for Wingate University, which is located southeast of Charlotte in Wingate, North Carolina.

Dixon said Wingate is going to honor that commitment and bring his jersey on National Signing Day.

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