ROME, Ga. / MADISON, Ala. — A Bob Jones graduate and former basketball player passed away due to complications from COVID-19, one day after showing symptoms. He was only 24 years old.
Ryan Dupree, 24, was a Madison native who played basketball and graduated from Bob Jones High School.
Former Bob Jones Principal Robby Parker remembers Dupree as someone who was always smiling.
I never saw the child without a smile on his face, even when I met him at the age of two,” Parker told News 19. “He was just one of a kind, you could interview 1,000 people and they would all talk about his smiling, that’s all he did.”
Dupree passed away Saturday after COVID-19 quickly took over his body, according to a GoFundMe set up for his family.
Parker says he’s still trying to wrap his head around the thought that he’s gone.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever been more, I don’t know if shocked is the word but it’s hard to even process right now,” Parker continued. “Ryan was just such a healthy young man, and it just appears that it just happened so suddenly and it’s hard to process right now, I know our entire community is in shock.”
Dupree played college basketball at Snead State Community College, and finished his undergraduate degree at Mississippi State University, according to a family friend. Recently, he had accepted an assistant coach position at Shorter University in Rome, Georgia.
It was just a couple of months ago that Parker last saw Dupree and he says he remembers exactly where he was: at a friends wedding and what they spoke about.
“Ryan did the same thing he does every time I see him, he didn’t say anything, he just came up smiling,” Parker said. “I hugged his neck and I met his lovely girlfriend and talked about his new position as a college coach in basketball, which I just thought was awesome, especially with me being a former coach, that made my day.”
Family friends remembered Dupree on social media, “He was 24. Strong. Healthy. Played sports his entire life. He played through college. He had just taken a job reaching his lifelong dream of being a college coach. Now he’s gone,” a Facebook post wrote.
Parker echoed those posts saying it’s indescribable, “Why would a healthy 24 year old who loves everybody why would this happen to him, I don’t know, nor does anybody know, but we do know that God’s ways are not our ways and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and we do know as Christians that there will be a wonderful reunion and I know that the Dupree’s take comfort in that.”
“More than anything right now, the family needs prayers, I’m sure they’re still in shock and numb right now, I can’t even imagine,” Parker concluded.
The GoFundMe to donate for funeral costs is located here.