Smalls was a junior college transfer who had just joined the Western Carolina football team. He was participating in his first "voluntary" workout on July 8, 2009 with the team prior to the start of official practice. He died shortly after that workout in Cullowhee.
The lawsuit sought “a sum in excess of $10,000” and listed Smalls’ father, Henry Malcolm Smalls, as plaintiff. Legal documents in the Jackson County Clerk of Courts confirmed that attorneys for Henry Malcolm Smalls dismissed the suit. It has been reported by the Asheville Citizens Times, that Western Carolina settled out of court with Smalls' father in the sum of $600,000.
The autopsy report, released in November 2009 by medical examiner Dr. Lawrence Selby, cited complications from an enlarged heart were the cause of Smalls’ death. The sickle cell trait and exertion were also listed as contributing factors.
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