The UCF community lost one of its own Sept. 22 when freshman engineering major and Jacksonville native Michael Namey died after collapsing in class.
Michael, 18, collapsed in his precalculus class Sept. 21 and was administered CPR and two AED shocks. He was transported to Oviedo ER before being transferred to Central Florida Regional Hospital, where he died the next day.
Although it has been speculated that he suffered from sudden cardiac arrest, it is currently unknown what caused his sudden collapse. His older brother, Joseph Namey, said Michael did not have any pre-existing conditions.
Growing up, Michael was on a swim team and a baseball team and excelled at both, Joseph said. For most of his childhood, he was “inseparable” from his Nintendo 64 and GameCube, if he wasn’t swimming or playing baseball.
“His very first video game was Yoshi’s Story for the Nintendo 64,” Joseph said. “Ever since then, video games have been a huge part of his life, and we had just finished building a new gaming computer for him to take down to Orlando when the semester began.”
The two brothers were close growing up, constantly on a GameCube game together. Michael would be in the middle of playing a game, while his brother would have a strategy for it open elsewhere. Michael was the kind of person, Joseph said, who skipped the tutorial and went straight for the hard mode. If something wasn’t a challenge, he wasn’t interested.
“He showed this time and time again in life,” Joseph said. “One example included snorkeling for lobsters. While I was asking 100 questions trying to be well-informed before jumping in, he would jump in and figure it out as he found the lobsters.
“He played hard modes in video games, had a challenging class schedule at school and sought out new opportunities to be challenged.”
Joseph said his family took annual vacations to Crescent Beach, where the brothers would kayak, fish and boogie board together. Even something as simple as getting food was a bonding opportunity for the two.
“We’d rush to Krispy Kreme before they closed at night to get doughnuts, and were always looking for what sub would be on sale next at Publix to split,” Joseph said.
When Michael started at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville in 2011, Joseph said the sports winded down. Michael was an intelligent person, and was awarded with the full Bright Futures award for his academics. His friends knew he was a bright individual, someone people always wanted to be around.
“[He] was an extremely intelligent kid. He was a natural-born leader and people just flocked toward him,” his close friend, freshman biomedical sciences major Daniel Hanna, said in a previous interview with the Central Florida Future. “He was so nice, so caring. He would give you the shirt off his back. It’s saddening to see him go because he was a great kid.”
His UCF experience was limited, as it was only his second semester as a student. He lived at The Pointe at Central with his roommates, and if he wasn’t gaming in his room, they would often hang out and play games together.
“We had him meet our friends and play some games with us; he was a really cool guy, my brother and I liked him,” said Tyler Abel, a sophomore marketing major and one of Michael’s roommates. “ … It sucks knowing we won’t see him again or hang out.”
And while Michael’s passion was gaming, he also had a soft spot for Sierra Davison, his first girlfriend. The two had been dating for nearly 15 months.
“Michael was extraordinary. He’d do anything you asked of him, without trouble,” Davison, who lives in Jacksonville, said. “He was always interested in what you had to say. Whether he’d admit it or not, he was beyond affectionate and caring. He wasn’t emotional often, but showed how much he cared in different ways.”
Michael, a dog person who always sent people photos of cute animals, was a protective boyfriend, jealous in the best way possible, Davison said. He would never like it when any of his friends added her on social media, and he always took it upon himself to make sure she was comfortable and ready to go wherever the two were headed.
“He always made sure I had my phone, it was charged, my parents knew where we were going, what time we’ll be home, if I brought a sweater, too many things to list,” Davison said. “My goal every day was to make him happy. … When we watched films together or drove anywhere, we’d always be holding hands.”
But aside from being Davison’s boyfriend, Michael was also her mentor, whose opinion and advice meant the world to her.
“I trusted him so much and he never failed me,” she said. “Whenever I had a problem, he’d never steer me in the wrong direction. It’s really sad to see such a beautiful person go so soon. … I hope he’s resting somewhere beautiful with his childhood dog, Buddy. [Michael] was one of a kind. I will love and care for him until the end of days.”
Davison said Michael’s favorite video game was World of Warcraft. He also liked League of Legends and was recently being paid to play it professionally. Of nearly 1.75 million players in North America, he was in the top 800. He was so good at it, in fact, that his mother called one night to propose the idea of purchasing Comcast Business Class so he could play it full time with great Internet.
Manny Orozco Ballestas, a senior political science pre-law major and first responder who gave Michael CPR, has made it his mission to promote awareness of CPR and AED training in Michael’s name.
Only one in every 10 people who suffer from sudden cardiac arrest will survive, he said, and he is currently working with friends to develop a project that he hopes will help eradicate this statistic.
“Moving forward, I think I have come up with a solid idea that, if executed properly, it could be the solution we’re looking for,” Orozco Ballestas said. “Anything moving forward to help this cause is inspired and is dedicated to Michael Namey.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up to fund Orozco Ballestas’ project to help spread CPR and AED training awareness, as well as to help remove any financial burden from the Namey family. To donate, go to GoFundMe.com and search “In Memory of Michael Namey.”
A vigil in remembrance of Michael, called “Knights for Namey,” will be held at Lake Claire Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. Theta Chi fraternity pledges, who reached out to Orozco Ballestas following the incident, have helped in the planning process and will unite to bring the UCF and Orlando communities together to remember Michael and promote CPR and AED training.
Danielle Hendrix is a News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @ByDaniHendrix or email her at DanielleH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.