Father of High School Quarterback Robbie Roper Speaks Out About the Real Cause of Player's Death

It was initially reported that the talented player died due to complications from routine shoulder surgery but his family is now speaking out about what led to his tragic passing

Photo: Obituary

The father of Georgia high school quarterback Robbie Roper, who died in December at age 18, is speaking out about his untimely death.

It was initially reported that the talented player died due to complications from routine shoulder surgery, however, in a USA Today Sports interview published Wednesday, his father James Roper revealed the chain of events that led to his son's tragic death.

"I just wanted him remembered as a perfect kid. I just didn't want anybody thinking that he had some abnormality when they thought about him," James said when asked why he waited so long to address the cause of his son's death.

James told the outlet the 2022 college football recruit had urea cycle disorder (UCD), a rare genetic disorder that can result in elevated blood ammonia levels that become toxic, according to the Medical Journal of Australia. Something, he said medical professionals overlooked.

Robbie Roper Scholarship Fund https://www.gofundme.com/f/robbie-roper-scholarship---fund

Patrick Moore, an attorney representing the Roper family who specializes in medical malpractice, told USA Today Sports that the disorder can be triggered by corticosteroids or can be set off by a surgical procedure – "fasting beforehand, anesthesia and physical trauma." Robbie underwent shoulder surgery on Dec. 14.

PEOPLE's request for additional comment from Moore was not immediately returned.

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The weekend before Robbie's death, the family had traveled to St. Augustine, Florida for a family reunion, James told the outlet.

"He was fine,'' he said. "He was on the beach, laughing and carrying on and having a good time on Saturday. And then Sunday he started throwing up, and we just thought he had a stomach flu or something. You know, you don't rush to the hospital just for throwing up.''

When his condition worsened, Robbie's mom took him to urgent care, and then to a hospital. At the hospital – which the Roper family has declined to name – the medical staff allegedly insisted that Robbie was on drugs, even though the family said he was a good kid who never messed around with illegal substances.

"We called all of his friends and asked what did he use, and all of them said they'd never seen Robbie touch a drug. I mean, the kid was a straight arrow, 3.9 GPA. All the kid wanted to do all his life every day was play football and play Xbox. He never really hung out with friends and went to parties and all that. He was just a real quiet kid," said James.

While the drug tests came back showing nothing, additional tests showed that Robbie's ammonia levels were nearly four times the normal amount. He was then airlifted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, where he was put on dialysis – but it was too late, according to James.

"If they would have been more aggressive in putting him on dialysis, he'd probably still be alive,'' James said of the first hospital.

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Robbie was put on life support on Dec. 21, and passed on Dec. 22; his family announced his death in a statement on Twitter the same day.

"He was the biggest joy to our family," the statement read in part. "We are proud of the young man he has become. He will be missed by his friends and family dearly."

Robbie was a class of 2022 recruit. He had earned the interest of numerous schools including the University of Florida, Ole Miss, TCU, and the University of Michigan. He had also recently been offered a scholarship offer from the University of Massachusetts, according to Sports Illustrated.

"It's definitely been crazy. I mean the first game of the season, I think I put up 450 [yards] passing and about 70 on the ground, so I knew what season it could end up being," he told the publication of his star season in an interview published just two days before he died. "Lately it's just been crazy. I know it's a little late in the game, but there's still a lot of schools that have been very interested and Florida has definitely been one of them."

A GoFundMe set up by a member of Robbie's extended family has raised over $55,000 since it was created, with the hopes of setting up an athletic scholarship fund in his name.

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