Jamain Stephens Jr, a defensive lineman for the California University of Pennsylvania, died on Tuesday due to, what was initially reported, complications of COVID-19. The cause of death was confirmed by Stephens' high school, Central Catholic, and his obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. On Wednesday, however, his high school retracted the earlier statement saying it "mistakenly attributed his death without official confirmation on the cause". Central Catholic issued an official apology for the error.
Brother Tony Baginski, FSC, Principal of Central Catholic issued the following statement on Wednesday:
"When we heard the news of Jamain Stephens’ death, we as a community were devastated. He was well-loved by everyone in our community, and in an effort to get the news out about his death in a timely manner, we mistakenly attributed his death without official confirmation on the cause of death. We had obtained the information about his passing from close friends of Jamain, who reached out to us with the news. We apologize for this error, and this information has since been removed from our Facebook announcement dated 9/8/2020."
While Baginski failed to provide an exact cause of death, he honoured the 20-year-old calling him an "embodiment of everything a Central Catholic student should be."
Born September 21, 1999, Jamain Stephens Jr was commonly known by his nickname, Juice. He played as a defensive tackle for his high school side, the Vikings, where he won two winning two WPIAL championships and a state championship in 2015. Jamain extended his football career with the California University of Pennsylvania where he was pursuing a degree in Business Administration.
Listed at 6'3" and 255 pounds, Stephens played three seasons for the Cal U Vulcans. The 2020 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If the earlier statement about his cause of death is to be believed, Stephens likely contracted the virus during the interim. The University confirmed his passing but failed to clarify the cause of death.
Jamain's father, Jamain Sr played football in the NFL as an offensive lineman between 1996 and 2003. He was drafted as a first-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers after which he signed for the Cincinnatti Bengals in 1999. Speaking to Sports Illustrated on Wednesday, Jamain Sr mentioned that his family remains unaware of the truth regarding his son's death. He declined to make any further statements before ending the interview.