Family remembers 15-year-old who died of heart attack while playing basketball

Posted at 6:38 PM, Mar 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-23 22:15:32-04

Kelly Wilson got the call Monday night. Her nephew, who she cared for as a son after his mom died, suddenly collapsed while trying out for a travel basketball team.

He was transferred from hospital to hospital as doctors tried to save him.

“And I knew just walking through the hallways to the room that he was gone,” said Wilson.

Fifteen-year-old Xavier Carter died early Tuesday morning.  Now his aunt is going through old pictures and the videos he made to make others smile.

“He made me laugh so hard. I wish I had more videos of him like that,” said Wilson.

She is remembering his love of the sport he died playing and his dedication to his family.

“My son would do bad on his test and Xavier would say what are you doing man?” said Wilson of Xavier’s more serious side.

Like many high school students he was exploring what he wanted to do after high school.  He wanted to go to college.  He dreamed of getting an athletic scholarship.

She is waiting for autopsy results to show why he had a heart attack, with questions on her mind.

“Was there something we could have done? Was there a test that could have been done that could have seen something that was wrong?” asks Wilson.

“It really hits home,” said Charese Sailor. “We’re not supposed to die playing sports.”

She heard about Xavier Carter and immediately thought about her dad Charlie Sanders. The Detroit Lions Legend who died in July 2015, once saw a story about a kid who died suddenly from a heart condition while playing basketball.  He then decided to do something.

“I heard him say it is all about the kids,” said Sailor.

They founded the ‘Have a Heart, Save a Life” charity.  It works with Beaumont Hospital to provide electrocardiograms and echo cardiograms to children at a low cost.  These are tests not done during the routine physical required to play sports.  These tests have the potential to identify heart conditions that put children at risk of heart attacks.

She said there has been an increase in calls from parents since Xavier died.  She is asking for cardiologists to volunteer with the organization to help them help more children.

“Don’t blink. That was my thing when I lost my dad. Don’t blink. Don’t wait for the next opportunity. Don’t wait cardiologists to help us save lives. Don’t wait parents. Get your children checked out when they are thirteen. Don’t blink,” said Sailor.

“My message to all the parents out there, is whether there is a family history or not, get your kids checked,” said Wilson.

Wilson says she doesn’t know if such a check would have saved Xavier. She believes if it could save another family from this pain, these checks should be done. 

You can learn more about the Beaumont Student Heart Checks at

A fundraiser has been set up to help the family raise money for hospital and funeral expenses at