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Sterling Heights

Former Stevenson, WSU football player passes away during workout

January 21, 2013

Serxho Guraleci, a football standout at Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights, and four-year player for the Wayne State University football team, died Jan. 21 during a workout in Macomb County.

The cause of death was not immediately known. Guraleci, who had completed his athletic eligibility at Wayne State, was working toward a degree in kinesiology and secondary education.

“Serxho always had a smile on his face — just a big, strong kid that was happy all the time,” said Rick Bye, Guraleci’s coach at Stevenson.

Bye was Guraleci’s coach for two seasons on the Titans’ varsity squad. Guraleci was forced to sit out his senior season, because he had used all of his high school athletic eligibility after he was forced to repeat the ninth grade.

“He had to go through ninth grade twice, because he came over from Europe and didn’t have a grasp on the English language,” Bye said of Guraleci, who was born in Albania. “But he got into Wayne State (and) really buckled down on his academics (to get them) where they needed to be.”

Bye said it was a testament to Guraleci’s work ethic that he became a standout collegiate football player despite only two years of experience, as well as achieving Wayne State academic accolades in four different semesters and All-Academic team recognition in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference every year he was eligible.

“It took a lot of extra work for him,” Bye said, noting that Guraleci also worked his way to earning All-State honors in shot put. “We worked with him in the offseason on what he had to do in his techniques.

“He was very, very talented, and not just in football, but in shot put and the classroom. He was very determined to be the best he could be. All of his friends just loved him.”

In his final season playing for Wayne State, Guraleci, 22, was a 2012 All-GLIAC second-team selection and won the WSU Football Courtney "Cortez" Smith Award, which is presented to the WSU football student-athlete who best exemplifies what Smith stood for: character.

"This is a devastating loss for the Wayne State football family," WSU head football coach Paul Winters said in a release. "Serxho was loved by everyone. We are all having a hard time understanding this. We will surely miss him."

Visitation and service information were not available at press time.

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