Des Plaines college student Jesus Lupian, who collapsed during soccer practice Wednesday afternoon in Chicago, had parlayed his skills in the sport into a scholarship he planned to use to build a career as a certified public accountant. It wasn't to be.
"He died with no pain and he was doing what he loved," said Lourdes Contreras, Lupian's cousin, who he referred to as his second mom. "It was his passion."
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The youngest of seven children, Lupian developed a passion for soccer in grade school, Contreras said Saturday. His skill earned him a soccer scholarship to Robert Morris University, where he majored in accounting with the goal of becoming a CPA.
"His goal was to go to school and become someone because he wanted his mom to stop working," said Contreras of her cousin, an immigrant from Mexico who was planning to pursue U.S. citizenship.
Lupian's mother raised her six oldest children alone after her first husband died. Lupian, who was about to begin his sophomore year in college, was his mother's son with her second husband and was about 15 years younger than his older siblings, Contreras said.
Family acquaintance Ernie Severino described 19-year-old Lupian as a devoted son with a bright future.
"He was a good kid. He had a future," said Ernie Severino, owner of Severino's River Woods Funeral Chapel in Des Plaines, which is handling funeral services for the 2011 Hersey High School graduate.
"He was a really well-respected kid," who did everything he could for friends and family, especially his mother, to whom the teen was especially close, Severino said.
He rejected drugs and alcohol and even shunned energy drinks because he feared the calories, Contreras said.
"He strived for everything. He never took advantage," said Contreras, who recalls Lupian calling his mom and apologizing for putting $500 in college textbooks on the credit card Contreras helped him obtain.
His family immigrated from Mexico when Lupian was in first grade, Contreras said. He grew up in Glenview and attended Springman Middle School. Before transferring to Hersey in his senior year, Lupian attended Glenbrook South High School in Glenview for three years.
No stranger to adversity, Lupian lost his vision for a time while at Glenbrook South, Contreras said. A corneal transplant restored his eyesight, she said, allowing him to return to the soccer field.
Lupian was practicing with his teammates at the Chicago Flames Field on the city's West Side when he collapsed about 6:18 p.m., said university provost Mablene Krueger.
Contreras praised the university's soccer coach Jake Truty for giving Lupian CPR and remaining by his side. She also expressed the family's appreciation for the efforts of emergency personnel at the University of Illinois Medical Center where Lupian was taken after he collapsed.
"They did everything they could," said Contreras. "We're grateful for that."
An autopsy to determine the cause of death was inconclusive, pending further tests, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
Visitation is from 3 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Severino's River Woods Funeral Chapel in Des Plaines. The funeral Mass will take place at 10 a.m. Monday at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines with internment at All Saints Cemetery.