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Matt James 1992-2010

Matt James, a 17-year-old senior from St Xavier High School in Cincinnati, fell to his death from the 5th floor of a Panama City Beach Days Inn on Front Beach Road at 6:30 p.m. on Friday evening. He was reportedly one of the nation’s most recruited offensive lineman.

The 6’6″ 290 pound athlete was recruited by Notre Dame University earlier this year and signed a letter of intent on February 3 to play for the Fighting Irish – see photo below.

The All-City and All-State standout was also named to the first team as an All-American by USA Today. The talented athlete played on the St. Xavier H.S. varsity basketball team too.

According to officers who arrived first on the scene, the young man was in Florida on spring break with his high school football teammates. His traveling companions told police that their friend had been “drinking and belligerent”, and fighting with people on the next balcony.

Matt James reportedly leaned over to exchange words with neighboring hotel guests when he lost his balance and plunged over the rail. He died instantly of blunt force trauma. An autopsy was performed and toxicology test results will be available in 6-8 weeks.

The boys devastated parents, Jerry and Peggy James, reported that their son would have turned 18 next week. They issued the following statement: “We would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support during this tragic time. Matt was a very special young man, and it is gratifying to us that you all could see that as well.”

The St. Xavier Bombers football and basketball players attended a prayer service on Saturday morning for the “gentle giant” who always had a smile on his face. The teammates wept openly and afterward walked together to the football stadium.

More photos and video below: