13-year-old ‘gentle giant’ known for battling on the gridiron now battling for life against COVID-19 in an ICU


PRAGUE, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma 13-year-old boy is fighting for his life as he battles COVID-19 in a local hospital.

“We call him our gentle giant,” said Rhonda Embry, describing her 13-year-old nephew, Devon. 

“He’s nice to everybody that he comes in contact with,” said Gunner Watkins, Devon’s classmate at Prague Middle School.

“He’s a really good friend,” said another classmate AJ Carpenter. “He doesn’t like lie to you or anything.”

Last Saturday, Devon was a normal teenager, watching little league football. 

He plays defense at Prague Middle School and his friends say he’s a force on the football field.

“He’s a big force on the field. He’s hard to block, like really hard,” said Carpenter

“I was the fullback and I was trying to run up the middle and he grabbed me and threw me down and fell on me,” added teammate Aiden Coope

Off the field, he’s quite the comedian. 

“Crack up a lot of jokes with him,” said friend Eli Reynolds.

Last Sunday, Devon’s health flipped a switch. 

“He was sneezing. I think he threw up a little bit, and just stomach ache, back aches, and really bad headache,” said Rhonda Embry.

Days later, Devon could barely move. 

His mom rushed him to the emergency room, and they moved him to the ICU at The Children’s Hospital at OU Health. 

Photo goes with story
Devon Embry, No. 35, playing football.

He was ultimately diagnosed with COVID-19. 

“At one point, they were talking about life support and so that was hard, that was really hard on her,” said Rhonda. 

Devon’s aunt says at one point, she even parked in the hospital parking lot and stayed overnight in case tragedy struck. 

Devon’s mom is desperate. She’s a nurse herself. 

Rhonda says at one point, her sister was trying to help hospital staff care for her own son. 

“She’s just listening to him breathe, the way he was breathing and just the silence of the room at times,” said Rhonda. 

Now, Devon is making some strides. 

This diagnosis hits close to home for so many of his friends. 

“I didn’t really know how bad it was and there was a lot of questions I didn’t know,” said Devon’s friend Hayden Kinslow. 

“It makes it 10 times more real,” said Reynolds. 

“I was really, really scared cause a lot of people die from this and because he was in ICU,” said Carpenter. 

Devon is still in the ICU but his family hopes by sharing his story people will take this virus seriously. 

“He’s still battling, but he’s going to get through it I believe,” said Rhonda. 

“We’re praying for him and we hope he gets better,” said Watkins. 

If you would like to help Devon and his mom, you can donate to the family’s GoFundMe account.


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