BY Lorri Wickenhauser, The Western JournalJanuary 3, 2023
9 months ago

17-Year-Old Basketball Player Dies Suddenly at Home, Coroner Reports Cause of Death

A 17-year-old high school athlete died suddenly and unexpectedly last week.

An obituary for Max Sorenson of Gillette, Wyoming, said he died Dec. 26 "due to complications from injuries sustained playing basketball."

Paul Wallem, the Campbell County coroner, reported the cause of death as peritonitis, an infection of the tissue that lines the abdomen, according to a report Friday in the Gillette News Record.

The news outlet reported Sorenson, a junior at Thunder Basin High School, suffered an injury during a Dec. 17 game against Rock Springs, but it did not specify the nature of the injury.

The Cowboy State Daily reported the young man "suffered a medical event at his home ... and was pronounced deceased at Campbell Memorial Hospital."

"Max had an incredible work ethic and was very disciplined," his obituary said. "His focus was evidenced by his achievements at school, on the basketball court, at church and in his social activities.

"Even more important than those successes were his welcoming smile, kind eyes, curly locks and loving personality, which made friendship with him easy and comfortable and was felt by everyone."

Sorenson had a 4.0 grade-point average at Thunder Basin and had been inducted into the National Honor Society.

He was on the school's state championship basketball team last year as a sophomore, and was a starting player this year as a junior, according to the Cowboy State Daily.

According to his obituary, Sorenson's English teacher sent a letter to the young man's parents after taking his son to watch one of his basketball games.

The teacher wrote, “I just wanted to let you know what an amazing son you have! Max is a tremendous role model for all kids and I'm glad my son got to see him play and I look forward to watching many more games this season.”

"His love for basketball was matched only by his passion for other outdoor sports and activities like golf, wakesurfing and wakeboarding at the lake, cruising the side-by-side in the hills with his dad, and any excuse to hang out with all of his friends and cousins," the obituary said. "He was an avid BYU fan and loved every opportunity to cheer for the Cougars."

After their teammate's death, Sorenson's team debated whether to attend the Hoops City Classic tournament in Mitchell and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, last week, the Cowboy State Daily reported.

“We let the boys decide if they wanted to come to that,” Thunder Basin basketball coach Rory Williams told the news outlet. “And they ultimately decided they wanted to come and play for Max, and basically be together.”

Sorenson's teammates and even other teams at the tournament paid tribute to the fallen player by wearing his jersey number.

The teen's unexpected death made headlines across the nation and even overseas, with outlets such as the EuroWeeklyNews sharing the news and reposting social media tributes to the young athlete.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Lorri Wickenhauser, The Western Journal

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