Star SM West receiver Andre Maloney not expected to recover from stroke
BY SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Shawnee Mission West High School senior Andre Maloney is in vegetative state after suffering a stroke during a football game Thursday night at SM South District Stadium, a family member said Friday.
Karla Montoya, Maloney’s cousin, said doctors have informed the family that Maloney is unlikely to emerge from the vegetative state, and the family has chosen to stop further treatment.
“The doctors have told us he will not come out of it, so either he will remain like that, or what will happen is we’ll make a decision to let him be free,” said Montoya, 20, who was raised by the same grandmother as Maloney. “He wouldn’t like that. He’s been an athlete since the day he could walk. It would be unfair for us to hold onto him.”
Maloney was taken off the football field Thursday night in an ambulance after he became disoriented on the sideline during SM West’s 37-34 loss to Leavenworth.
The ambulance transported Maloney to the emergency room at Overland Park Regional Medical Center before he was transferred to Research Medical Center, where doctors discovered a blood clot in his brain. Maloney underwent a three-hour surgery, but doctors were unable to successfully remove the clot, Montoya said.
Research Medical Center has a dedicated neurological intensive care unit at the Midwest Neuroscience Institute.
Montoya, a student at KU, attended Thursday’s game, during which she noticed “something wasn’t right” with Maloney on the sideline after he scored on a 63-yard touchdown reception. Maloney, who in July verbally committed to play football at KU, was untouched on the play — and even celebrated his touchdown in the end zone, teammates said — but stumbled when he returned to the bench.
As he reached for a water bottle, SM West football coach Tim Callaghan said, Maloney “got dizzy and lost functioning.”
Maloney grabbed a teammate for support as he staggered backward, but he ultimately collapsed, Montoya said.
“I rushed to the field, and Andre is laying there, drooling, with his head tilted to the right,” Montoya said. “He was conscious, but you could tell he wasn’t clear. He was mumbling. It didn’t make sense.”
Montoya, family members and a host of SM West football players jammed into a private waiting room in the intensive care unit of Research Medical Center on Friday. They took turns visiting Maloney in small groups.
“There’s a bond there that can’t be broken,” said Justin Fetzer, a longtime football and basketball teammate of Maloney’s. “He’s a brother to me. Seeing someone who’s usually so into everything suddenly out of it, it’s mind boggling.”
Teammate Mario Louis said he and others spent the day at the hospital.
“It was really sad to see him like this,” Louis said. “Everyone looks up to him. He’s really a great guy.”
In the hospital waiting room, they shared stories with one another.
“We’re just talking about how he was as a player in a person,” Montoya said. “I’m just in shock. There’s no reason why he should leave us. Of all people, he’s the last person this should happen to.”
At SM West Friday afternoon, about 200 students gathered on the football field for an after-school vigil. They sat on the field and stood in small circles, hugging and holding one another.
Maloney enjoyed a breakout year as a junior last season, helping SM West win the program’s first Class 6A state championship since 1985.
Maloney was an honorable mention All-Metro performer in 2012, catching 24 passes for 518 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also made 42 tackles with four interceptions and 12 pass breakups as a safety and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
Star reporters Glenn E. Rice and Tod Palmer contributed to this report.