Family remembers football player who died during game

HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) – Monday, Oct. 15 is the senior lineman's birthday, but the family won't be celebrating together at the table. Instead, the family will be at the cemetery, remembering the life that was lost too soon.

Just days before Ronald Rouse's 19th birthday, the family had to lay their son to rest after he suffered a cardiac arrhythmia and died during the Hartsville Homecoming football game on October 5.

"Thinking back now, RJ probably knew in his mind that he wasn't feeling right, but he was going to make it to that game. He never complained. He gave it all to the team," remembers Shirley Moore, Ronald's grandmother.

His grandfather says he lived a life with a love for God and a passion for football.

"His dream was to be a professional football player and just before he passed, he came to me with letters from colleges wanting him to play," says Alexander Moore, Ronald's grandfather.

Doctors told the family that even with an EKG, Ronald would have died eventually from the heart condition. If they would have known, he may have lived longer. But he wouldn't have been able to continue to play football.

"That was his glory, what he liked to do. And he wanted people to know that he was excited to be out on that field," says Yvonne Rouse, Ronald's mother.

The family doesn't want to think about the time stolen from them. Instead, they want to remember the memories they have with Ronald.

"Once you know God, you know He doesn't make any mistakes. I can't be angry. I can't be upset. I can't ask 'why Lord my child?' Because He needs His beautiful flowers, too. And I think of it as an honor that he chose me to be RJ's parent," expresses Mrs. Rouse.

Ronald was working towards getting his driver's license, and the family was surprised to learn he had signed up to be an organ donor when he went to get his permit.

"I'm glad that someone was able to use what he was offering to give. And that part of him still lives on somewhere. Up until the last, he gave. He was a very giving person," says Mr. Moore.

The family thanks the community for their continued support and thoughts.

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