Childhood friend on sudden death of Phoenix high school football player

A childhood friend is remembering a high school football player who was found dead at the bottom of Show Low Lake.
Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 5:41 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — 15-year-old Chris Hampton loved playing football, but the Phoenix teen won’t be lining up with his teammates this season. The student-athlete from Cesar Chavez High School in Laveen was found dead Tuesday at the bottom of a lake in northeastern Arizona.

Hampton’s death has hit his friends pretty hard. Mekhi Hodge went to elementary school with Hampton, and they were looking forward to football in the fall. Hodge said he had a big heart, loved life and always put others first.

“He’s loving, wasn’t hateful, didn’t talk down on anybody,” Hodge said. “He was caring, always a smile on his face. Just a tragedy what happened, just sad it happened to my friend.”

Hampton was in Show Low as part of a football camp with other schools across the state. Chavez High players reportedly went to Show Low Lake after practice Monday for some team bonding. A number of students went swimming, but Chris never made it back to shore.

Crews from multiple agencies had been searching for 15-year-old Christopher Hampton, a student at Cesar Chavez High School in Laveen Village.

Richard Franco, with the Phoenix Union High School District, said the teen’s death has hit everyone hard — players, coaches, students and staff. One of the district’s priorities is making sure counselors are available to help the community cope with what happened.

“We have several behavioral partners with us, social workers, internal social workers, internal counselors and psychologists,” Franco said. “We’ve deployed a whole team of support to Chavez High that is open and available to anyone who might need it.”

However, there are still a number of unanswered questions surrounding the tragedy. Was Hampton ever left behind at the lake? Were coaches on-site supervising players who were swimming? The Navajo County Sheriff’s Office is investigating what happened, and the Phoenix Union High School District is investigating to determine whether any policies were broken.

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