A 17-year-old Westlake High School athlete has died after suffering breathing complications, according to a letter sent out to the school's community this week.
Julius Poppinga, a junior at WHS that played both football and lacrosse, died on Tuesday after "having breathing issues," said the Los Angeles Times. Poppinga has reportedly not participated in any athletic activities with the school since Aug. 18, when the football team played their first game of the season.
He was supposed to go home on Saturday, after suffering a severe asthma attack, according to family.
"I miss him so much," said Julius' sister Jasmine, who is just 18 months older. She cheered at WHS football games while her brother played last season. "I know he's watching over me and my family in California right now."
She says that despite his whole life revolving around football, Julius was an even more special person, whose compassion shone the brightest. The two had spoken earlier on Wednesday before she learned of his sudden death.
The family is still waiting for an autopsy report to learn the exact cause.
"There was no red zone, there was no hour warning leading up to the tragedy, there was no, 'Hey, this might be your last time talking to Julius.'"
The Times says that players were told of Poppinga's death at a team meeting. They still plan on playing in their scheduled game on Friday, against Thousand Oaks High School.
"It kinda goes along with, 'As a Warrior,' cause the Westlake Warriors, he is a true warrior," Jasmine said, noting that her brother would have wanted the game to go on. "He's a kind, loving person and I want him to be remembered as the loving character he is. Everyone at Westlake, everyone in our whole community."
Poppinga is the son of former NFL linebacker Brady Poppinga, who won Super Bowl XLV with the Green Bay Packers in 2011. He shared a post on X after the news of his son's death broke.
"I would like to thank EVERYONE for their unbelievably beautiful, sweet and loving compassion sent our way," the X post said. "Julius is a special soul who has touched so many lives. He is missed, but we KNOW that through the Savior, we will see him and be with him again."
Westlake High School posted a photo of a memorial for Poppinga, adorned with dozens of flowers and candles.
The school's football team also posted on Instagram, sharing a statement to offer support for the Poppinga family.
"The Westlake Football family wants to send our deepest condolences to the Poppinga Family. Julius was a beloved member of our team and will be greatly missed by the entire tribe," the statement said.