Community remembers 11-year-old Urbana boy who died playing basketball

An Urbana sixth-grader who tragically died while playing basketball was remembered during a funeral Friday.

Friends and family honored the memory of Troy Byrd, 11, at Urbana Junior High School. A visitation was held before funeral services.

Byrd died Jan. 26.

“At this time, I feel a sense of relief,” said Byrd’s cousin, Lanicia Michelle Cunningham. “I am at ease because I know he is in peace. He is in good hands.”

Byrd collapsed while playing basketball with his cousins at the Champaign Family YMCA. The boy was transported to Mercy Health Urbana Hospital. Emergency personnel were not able to restart his heart.

Byrd died just one day before his birthday.

“I just want to thank everybody for their outpour of love and (for) reaching out to my family and Troy’s family,” Cunningham said. “I am sure he is in just as much shock in heaven knowing that this many people came out for him.”

Many attended the services Friday, including students, parents and teachers from the Urbana community. Buttons with Byrd’s picture on them were handed out to guests and everyone was invited to sign a basketball in the boy’s honor.

Also, Byrd’s basketball teammates were invited to sign a t-shirt with his number on its back. Many in attendance also wore a similar t-shirt with the boy’s number 8 on their back. Urbana City Schools closed on Friday to allow students and staff to attend the funeral.

Teams throughout the area are also wearing Byrd’s number 8 to honor his memory when they are on the court.

“I would like to thank the community for their outpouring of support for Troy’s family and our students,” Superintendent Charles Thiel said in a letter to the school community.

Cunningham said she wants people to remember Byrd’s smile.

“That baby came into the world with a bright smile… every time the sun lights up, I just know he is smiling down at us,” Cunningham said. “We love you Troy. Rest in heaven.”

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The Champaign County Coroner’s Office did not name a specific cause in Troy’s death. Byrd was buried Friday afternoon at Oak Dale Cemetery in Urbana.

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