ALIQUIPPA (KDKA) – No. 24 Dimantae Bronaugh was a star on the football field, but he was also a star in the hearts of many.
“I miss you, man. Just wish he was here,” Aliquippa senior Bobby Cashaw said.
“He fought the most courageous fight that he could, and he didn’t win, but in a way he did, ’cause he is with our Lord and Savior,” said Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker.
Bronaugh, 19, passed away on Tuesday after fighting a year-long battle with leukemia. This is a battle he thought he had won initially, but was quickly sidelined for a second time when the cancer came back in August.
“He got sick here after working out. We took him to the hospital and they re-diagnosed him, and it went downhill from there, fast,” said Aliquippa football coach Mike Zmijanac. “He was one of my kids, and to see that happen, it’s just a terrible thing.”
This time, he needed a bone marrow transplant.
The community at large took up his cause. The Steelers, rival teams, potential donors coming out in large numbers to try and find a bone marrow match.
But just after 6 o’clock Tuesday, Bronaugh’s battle would come to an end.
“I’m sad that I lost my brother. He’s been fighting for a while striving to get back to us. I’m also happy he gets to be with God and he’s done suffering,” Aliquippa senior Alexander Riggins said.
The superintendent with the Aliquippa School District says his students are taking the news very hard.
“The students are very calm. Very quiet. There’s that missing presence right now that he has provided them,” Superintendent Dr. Pete Carbone said.
When the community heard that Bronaugh needed a bone marrow transplant, they pitched in to find a donor. Charlotte Heyward, mother of Steeler Cam Heyward, spearheaded an event in support of Bronaugh.
In response to Bronaugh’s death, Cam tweeted:
“Sad hearing about Dimantae Bronaugh. My condolences to your family and loved ones. May your battle not be forgotten and your courage carry on.”
Sad hearing about DiMantae Bronaugh. My condolences to your family & loved ones. May your battle not be forgotten and your courage carry on
— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) November 30, 2016
“When you see Mike Tomlin say a few nice words via Twitter, same with James Conner,” Carbone said.
“One thing about Dimantae, everything he did was with love. Everything he wanted to do was making other people smile,” Aliquippa senior Kenny Rainey said.
The superintendent said that grief counselors will be on hand at the junior senior high school as well as the elementary school if students feel like they need someone to talk to.
Family members say funeral arrangements are right now uncomplete, but services will most likely be next week. A large turnout is expected.