Family and friends of a 17-year-old varsity football player who died after a severe asthma attack earlier this week are remembering him as an amazing athlete and a caring and compassionate person.
Julius Poppinga was the son of former linebacker and Super Bowl champion Brady Poppinga, who played six of his eight NFL seasons with the Green Bay Packers.
The Westlake High School junior had been hospitalized after a severe asthma attack last week and apparently suffered a collapsed lung during his stay in the hospital. He never recovered and died Wednesday, according to the Ventura County Star.
“He was just the kindest, sweetest soul,” his sister, Jasmine Poppinga, said.
The two were only 18 months apart in age. And while Julius excelled in football and lacrosse, Jasmine cheered alongside him as part of the cheerleading squad.
“It was great seeing everybody in the stands having Julius signs. He had such an amazing season last year,” Jasmine Poppinga said.
Similarly, his friend, Dustin Mex, said Julius led with a sense of humor and positive outlook.
“He always pushed us to do better, he always had this smile on his face that was a contagious,” Mex said.
In a letter to the school community, Westlake High Principal Jason Branham said students and staff are mourning.
“On behalf of the entire Westlake High School community, we send our deepest condolences to Julius’ family, friends, teammates and everyone who had the pleasure of knowing and interacting with him,” the letter said.
On Thursday, the marquee outside campus read “In Loving Memory of Julius Poppinga #ForeverWarrior.”
Julius leaves behind three sisters and his parents.