A 19-year-old basketball player who was described as fit and healthy dropped dead suddenly in his kitchen whilst cooking dinner. His mum has described him as someone who was “loved by everybody”.
Micah Gillings, 19, was excited to be starting his first university when on July 23 he died suddenly.
The fit and healthy basketball player had been preparing dinner when he suddenly dropped dead to the floor.
Although an investigation into his death is ongoing, in the opening of the inquest into his death a coroner stated it was a “natural cause death”.
Micah’s mum Natasha, 45, has opened up since his death and has described her son as someone who was “loved by everybody”.
The teenager had just reached the end of his gap year after studying at Long Road Sixth Form and was about to head off to Manchester Metropolitan University to study business.
On the morning of Micah’s death, he had told his girlfriend his phone’s password, which allowed his family to take a glimpse into an aspect of his life they rarely saw.
Natasha told Cambridgeshire Live: “We were able to get into his phone and we found a whole completely separate aspect to his social life.
“As a parent you don’t really get to see that side of your kid, and through that we realised how popular and loved by basically everybody he’d come in touch with.
“Obviously we knew that he was a happy, fun loving, caring young man, but it seems everybody he came into contact with felt the same way.
“It didn’t matter what the contact was, he was a caring, wonderful young man.”
Natasha then explained how Micah had not sat idly throughout lockdown and that he had been working at Sainsbury’s with the hopes of saving up some money before heading off to university. She said that he also used this time wisely, by reconnecting with people he hadn’t spoken to in a while.
Natasha said: “He’d taken a gap year and had been working at Sainsbury’s in town, he’d work all the extra hours when people were running out of stock, he worked all the extra hours available to save money.
“He also used the lockdown period to get in touch with people he’d lost contact with. He knew the halls he’d be staying in at university and he got in touch with the people he’d be staying with and built up a virutal relationship with them.
“He’d got to know them and subsequently after his death, they reached out to me and said how sorry they were and that they were really looking forward to moving in with him.
“The friends he surrounded himself with are all the same as Micah; they’ve been brilliant, they’re so caring and concerned.
“You hear so many stories about young people these days, but they do make you think that they’re not all bad.”
As social distancing is in place, many of Micah’s friends could not formally attend his funeral. However, many showed up outside to pay their respects.
Natasha said: “We came out the service and there were so many people there; I was just really shocked.
“People had turned up knowing they couldn’t come inside because of restrictions but they just wanted to turn up and pay their respects.”
Micah had been popular amongst his peers but was also a beloved member of the Cambridge Cats basketball club.
The club said that the teenager had originally started in the under-14 group and had always “showed great talent and potential right from the start”.
Micah eventually ended up representing the club and even played for Cambridgeshire at county level.
In their statement, the club said: “We are all devastated at the club and those that had the pleasure to coach Micah and be his teammate will know what a tragic loss this is.”
Natasha commented that basketball had been something that Micah had discovered later on in his life.
She said: “He didn’t find it until quite late as a kid.
“He was quite tall and gangly, he never really found his sport.
“He tried football, but he wasn’t very good at it. Then he tried athletics, but when he found basketball, he just loved it.
“Because he was so tall, he felt he wasn’t the odd one out and he just loved it and he was quite good at it.”
As Micah’s death had been shocking due to its suddenness, Natasha said she was even more devastated as she hadn’t been home at the time. When the tragedy struck, she had taken out his nine-year-old sister Imani.
Recalling the day, Natasha said: “The night it happened it was horrible.
“He was spending the day with his girlfriend, he’d been cooking dinner every Thursday on his day off in preparation for university so he could hone his cooking skills.
“He offered to cook dinner for us, but his sister and I were off to a restaurant with my friend.”
Natasha explained: “He was fine, I literally spoke to him on the way to the restaurant on Thursday, he’d phoned wanting to know about ingredients for dinner.
“An hour later I had the phone call saying the ambulance was there.”
Upon hearing the news, Natasha left Imani with her friend at the restaurant and she then rushed back home. However, it was too late.
She said: “At first it was horrible.
“He worked and he had his social life, the hours he worked were quite late and I got up quite early for work, so we were like ships that passed in the night.
“But my hours changed and I got to spend more time with him, he didn’t sit around doing nothing either, he used the time properly to reach out and reconnect with people.”
Due to lockdown restrictions, Natasha said that the family has been spending more time together than ever and they are trying their best to support one another by remembering what an incredible person Micah had become.
“We’ve got quite a big family,” said Natasha, “and we’re all pulling together and we’ve been supportive to one another.
“We’re taking one day at a time, it’s all we can do.”