JoJo Garcia, a former high-profile Gopher football recruit, dies at 19

A benefit to help the family is being held this week.
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A former Minnesota Gophers recruit, known as a promising high school football player and wrestler, was found dead in a St. Paul home this week.

Jovanny Joel Garcia, who went by JoJo, was 19 years old.

Garcia was found dead in a home on the 400 block of Clinton Avenue South in St. Paul Monday morning, according to a police report.

The report lists it as a possible suicide, but that is not an official cause of death – the Ramsey County Medical Examiner will make that determination. 

A benefit to help raise money for Garcia's family is planned for Saturday – you can see details here. A GoFundMe is also hoping to raise $13,000 to help with the burial costs. 

"Jojo was an incredible young man who grew up playing football for the Boosters," the West Side Boosters wrote on Facebook, noting he was also a wrestler. "Jojo was always kind, caring, helpful, considerate and friendly. The Westside Boosters are incredibly proud of Jojo, we're proud of his football and wrestling accomplishments and he will be greatly missed by all."

Garcia's athletics history

A 3-star recruit for the class of '16, Garcia played on the defensive line for East Ridge High School in Woodbury during his junior year of 2014 as well as 2013. (The school would be forced to forfeit all wins from those seasons because of an ineligible player.)

You can see highlights of his time with East Ridge here.

He transferred to Simley in Inver Grove Heights for his senior season, but was deemed ineligible to play, so sat out the entire year, the Star Tribune reported

He also had a promising – though "strange" as The Guillotine puts it – wrestling career.

In November of 2014, he committed to the University of Minnesota, 247 Sports says. But less than a year later he withdrew – the same day former Gophers head coach Jerry Kill left the program.

The next February he committed to Iowa Western Community College. It appears he didn't end up playing for the Reivers, however. 

Friends and acquaintances of Garcia are remembering him on social media.

Current Gophers coach PJ Fleck commented on Garcia's passing Tuesday – video can be seen here via GopherHole.com's Nadine Babu

"Anytime you lose a student-athlete at some point it's very tragic, and it affects people in different ways," he said. "But when it's in-house ... you have to make sure that you are very compassionate toward all their needs, and we'll definitely be on that."

Where to get help

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. each year, according to the AFSP. On average, there are 121 suicides per day.

Men die by suicide three and a half times more often than women, with white males accounting for 7 out of 10 suicides in 2015, the foundation says.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. It's available 24/7.

State officials say the number of suicides has been rising – both in Minnesota and nationally – since 2000.

Minnesotans can also get help through local groups like NAMI Minnesota or Mental Health Minnesota.

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