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Hundreds gather at vigil for City Honors student who died after collapse on basketball court

Tears flowed freely at twilight Sunday on the main steps and lawn outside City Honors School as more than 200 parents, students, friends and family gathered for a candlelight vigil in memory of Lamont Yancey. The 10th-grader, a member of the junior varsity basketball team, died unexpectedly Friday afternoon after collapsing during a pickup basketball game in nearby Masten Park.

“I know this is a difficult thing to do,” said City Honors Principal William Kresse as the vigil began, “but I hope by coming together tonight, it will be a comfort to the school and his family.”

“His life matters,” said the Rev. Tracy Daub of University Presbyterian Church, a City Honors parent, “and we take this occasion to remember that. Tonight, with you all here, we catch a glimpse of how Lamont’s life touched so many lives.”

His cousin and basketball buddy Brendan Bulluck got students to interrupt their tears with laughter when he told how Lamont was unfazed by defeat in the Gus Macker tournament and how he and Lamont struggled in Chinese class together.

“We were the two slackers in that class,” he said, then turned serious. “It just hurts that something like this could happen to such a good kid. I still can’t believe it. We need to look out for each other and be together.”

“He loved playing basketball. He went doing what he loved doing,” his mother, Sherice Bulluck, said as Lamont’s stepfather, Barry Bulluck, stood behind her with reassuring hands on her shoulders. “Though he was only 15 years old, he had an old soul. And he was the funniest child you could ever have. Everything was a joke to him.”

In addition to wearing a red City Honors T-shirt, “He also wore his infamous blue backpack,” she declared. “He even wore his backpack to church. He wouldn’t take it off in church.”

More than one speaker who stepped to the microphones set up on the sidewalk alongside Fosdick Avenue was overcome by grief. After identifying himself as Lamont’s best friend, a young man in a white shirt was unable to say more. Lamont’s grandmother threw her arms around him and consoled him.

When a student singing “Amazing Grace” choked up, the crowd raised its voices and completed the verse she was unable to finish. Lamont’s mother stepped forward and gave her a comforting hug.

Pens and paper sat at the top of the school stairway for those who wanted to write condolences for Lamont’s family. School officials said that crisis counselors will be on hand at the school Monday.

Adding to the condolences Sunday night was School Superintendent Kriner Cash, who issued a statement saying: “As we mourn the passing of a beloved student, Lamont Yancey, my deepest sympathies are extended to his family and the City Honors community, to whom he was a cherished son, student and friend.”

email: danderson@buffnews.com