Students and faculty members at Ballou High School are mourning the loss of a beloved graduate.
Donnell Brooks, whose classmates called him "Wee-Wee" because of his stature, died Monday. After a brain tumor operation at the age of 10, Brooks basically stopped growing. Though he was kept back a few times, he managed to graduate last year at the age of 20.
"Maybe his brain stopped working...," his mother, Felicia Brooks, said.
Not having a father in the home was his winning essay topic two years ago when ABC7 met him. His entire neighborhood came out to see his prize - a party bus and 100 motorcycles to escort him and his date to his high school prom.
"He's probably the most loved kid in Ballou," said Buckner.
Tuesday, as Ballou broke ground for a new school, they remembered Brooks.
"I was just chilling with him on Friday at the lunch table cracking jokes," said student Anthony Torrence. "It's like, 'Wow, he's gone in two days. That's crazy.'"
Family members say his cause of death is a mystery. They had a seafood party Saturday night. He was found unconscious Sunday and died the following day. They say an autopsy is being conducted.