Local News

Freshman football player at Saint Augustine's dies unexpectedly

Posted April 6, 2014

Ronald Cunningham

A freshman football player for Saint Augustine's University died Sunday afternoon, the university said in a statement.

Ronald Cunningham, 19, of Dinwiddie, Va., got sick on campus around 11 a.m. and was taken by ambulance to WakeMed, where he passed away just before 2 p.m., spokeswoman Shelley Willingham-Hinton said.

Willingham-Hinton said a cause of death hasn't been confirmed but that no foul play is suspected.

"On behalf of the Saint Augustine's University community, our deepest condolences and prayers go out to his family and friends," Rodney Gaddy, chairman of the Saint Augustine’s University Board of Trustees, said in a statement.

Falcons athletic director George Williams also released a statement.

"We are saddened by the passing of Ronald Cunningham. He was a member of the Saint Aug family, so everyone is grieving right now," Williams said. "He was an outstanding student-athlete and also an outstanding person. He was fun to be around. Our heart bleeds for the family."

A memorial prayer vigil is planned for 5 p.m. Monday afternoon, the university said.

Cunningham, who stood 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 285 pounds, wore the No. 63 jersey.


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  • lifetimelearner2009 Apr 8, 2014

    To the parents:
    I am praying for you. I lost my son at the age of 14 in 2011, it was also unexpected. I know your pain oh to well. Hold on to God, He will see you through. This is how I have made it everyday. Holding on to that God does not make mistakes. Sending many hugs and shedding tear with you...

  • rduwxboy Apr 7, 2014

    My sympathies to this young man's family and friends. I hope their is counseling for his school fiends who may need it.

  • dwr1964 Apr 7, 2014

    You guys can speculate why this young man died, but, here and now is not the time or place to do this. Instead of ineffectively trying to diagnose from a keyboard, how about offering prayers and thoughts? Why not allow the family of this young man grieve? Why not let the M.E. decide what the next step is going to be?

  • LetsBeFair Apr 7, 2014

    As they fire administrators for financial issues and accreditation issue arise, the worst happens to this young man. Hopefully there is still a support structure and some alumni to help hold things together.

  • Grand Union Apr 7, 2014

    There is a congenital heart defect that is often the cause of sudden deaths in athletes. Often the first sumptom is fatal heart attack.

  • Janet Scott Apr 7, 2014
    user avatar

    RIP No. 63.

  • lec02572 Apr 7, 2014

    Prayers for the family.

  • Janene DiPierro Apr 7, 2014
    user avatar

    May he rest in peace and prayers to the family.... BUT I for one want to know what happened to him. Its a little scary that with the flu and some viruses going around and none of us seek medical treatment , I would love to know what happened to him.

  • krazikatt2 Apr 7, 2014

    The rapidness of the onset and death makes me wonder if meningitis might be the culprit

  • Clayton Mack Apr 7, 2014
    user avatar

    My condolences to the Falcon family.