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Joey Glynn’s death stuns friends, teammates

Joey Glynn was an All-Scholastic twice.John Ioven

Joey Glynn was the prom king. He was an honor roll student and earned a basketball scholarship to Bentley. The first person he talked to after every game was his younger sister, who idolized him and liked to dissect his game.

His hair was usually cropped in a neat buzz cut, and he had an affinity for Mountain Dew.

"When you think of the all-American, all-everything kid, you think of Joey Glynn," said Mike Perry, Glynn's coach at Cardinal Spellman. "That's why everyone is in shock. We're all wondering how this could happen to someone with such a bright future. Why did this happen to Joey?"


Glynn, 19, died Monday after collapsing during a recreational league game in Watertown. Police are investigating the incident but don't suspect foul play. Witnesses say there was no specific event that triggered the collapse. No foul, no nudge.

Glynn, an Abington native and a lanky 6-foot-5-inch forward, was simply running down the court.

"His teammates always kind of thought of him as indestructible," said Mike Crotty, Glynn's AAU coach and teammate in the Monday night game. "Nobody played as hard as Joey. A lot of talented people don't play with the spirit he played with. Or willpower. He played a lot of minutes and never got injured."

On Monday, Glynn was competing in Watertown's Papas Elite League, known locally as a showcase and offseason training session for the area's top talent. It's also a reunion, of sorts, where late-twentysomethings relive their glory days. Glynn was playing on a team with some former AAU teammates.

Each roster must consist of at least 80 percent former or current college basketball players. The games are held at the outdoor court behind the Watertown Boys and Girls Club.

On Monday, there were about 30 people on hand — including a few spectators, reserve players, and the commissioner of the league — though the games draw larger crowds in the summer and through the playoffs, Crotty said.


It was the first game of the season. And it was the first time Crotty, 31, ever played on a team with Glynn.

"That was something I had been looking forward to," said Crotty.

At about 7:25 p.m. Glynn's team was playing defense. Crotty was guarding the player with the ball when he heard a loud snap.

"A guy on our team said he saw Joey just fall and nobody touched him," Crotty said. "So whatever happened to him occurred in his body."

His teammates raced over to Glynn. They didn't know what was going on. Maybe he was having a seizure, one player suggested. But Crotty knew that wasn't the case; the symptoms didn't match. Someone grabbed a cell phone and called 911.

Glynn was transported to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge.

"It was very evident something was really, really wrong," Crotty said.

Crotty, a former player at Williams, called Glynn's father. And then Jay Lawson, Glynn's coach at Bentley. Crotty and some of the players went to the hospital and waited for word.

Glynn started 16 games for Bentley last season, averaging 3.3 points and 16.7 minutes per game. He demonstrated a team-first attitude — "play the 3, play the 4, it didn't matter for him," Perry said — and was popular among teammates. Perry said Glynn was tutoring some of them in math.


At Cardinal Spellman, Glynn was a two-time All-Scholastic. He also captained the football team, lettered in baseball, and was selected as a peer leader.

"A lot of those people sometimes don't have the ability to handle all that with class and modesty," Crotty said. "Joey was different."

Perry recalled when the Cardinals won the South Sectional title and earned a date at TD Garden, and Glynn, of course, was the star.

"But he kept deflecting the praise and didn't talk about himself," Perry said. "He brought up a freshman point guard and complimented him for playing so well."

At the hospital Monday night, Glynn's father and doctor pulled the teammates into a conference room to relay the news. There was nothing that could be done. Glynn had died.

He is survived by his parents and four sisters.

"I think the way most people will remember him is as the perfect gentleman," Perry said.

Emily Kaplan can be reached at emily.kaplan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at emilymkaplan.