The first day of classes at UConn had a somber start Monday after a popular sophomore suddenly died in his dorm room.
Jesse Richeeds, who is known by many as "Jay-R," was supposed to start his sophomore year at UConn on Monday, but early Sunday morning he died suddenly after suffering a medical emergency in his dorm room.
Friends said Richeeds had asthma. Initially, officials are attributing his death to a pre-existing medical condition.
As officials investigate the cause, residents in his hometown fondly remembered him.
Richeeds was a former running back at Killingly, but did not pursue an athletic career at UConn.
"A lot of people looked up to him," says Mike Fague, who played with Richeeds at Killingly High School.
Even though his 18 touchdowns and 1,000 plus rushing yards on this field will be tough to match, coaches said Richeeds will be remembered most for his leadership off the field.
"He served kinda as a guiding light for a lot of these kids," said Killingly High Athletics Director John Krot. "Whether you were a freshman, sophomore or senior, you just flocked to him."
"I didn't really believe it at first," Fague said.
In just his freshman year, Richeeds was already making a name for himself. He loved making hip hop music with a positive message and his talents earned him the opportunity to open for Wale last year.
"Once he had a goal in mind, he was going to get it done," Krot said. "He was a person who wanted to make a difference in the lives of individuals and he definitely did that here at Killingly High School, and it seems like he was making the same differences in the lives of people at UConn."
The sudden loss comes as a shock to many in his hometown because even though he was just a half hour away in Storrs, coaches said Richeeds never forgot home.
They said Richeeds visited often and added he was still a role model for current high schoolers.
"Just the type of person every school hopes to have," Krot said. "And we were fortunate enough to have him at Killingly High School."
Grief counselors were on hand at UConn on Monday, and over at Killingly High School, they'll be there for the first day of school on Wednesday.
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