17-Year-Old Gillette Basketball Player Dies Unexpectedly On Monday

17-year-old Max Sorenson suffered a medical event at his home Monday and was pronounced dead at Campbell County Memorial Hospital. Authorities say it's not a suicide, homicide or anything to do with illicit drugs but "more of a medical condition."

Clair McFarland

December 29, 20223 min read

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A 17-year-old Gillette high school basketball player died unexpectedly Monday, the Campbell County Coroner has confirmed.  

Max Sorenson suffered a medical event at his home Monday and was pronounced deceased at Campbell County Memorial Hospital, Paul Wallem, Campbell County Coroner told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

As he spoke, Wallem was driving home from Rapids City, South Dakota, where an autopsy is being performed.  

Wallem said he’s not investigating the case as a suicide, nor as a homicide, and illicit drugs also don’t appear to be a factor.  

The investigation is suggesting “more of a medical condition,” he said.  

‘Kindest Young Man’ 

Rory Williams, Thunder Basin High School basketball coach, told Cowboy State Daily that Sorenson’s death is a tragic loss.  

“I’m not going to remember Max as the basketball player,” said Williams. “I’m going to remember Max as the kindest young man I’ve ever been around. He was just so genuine, authentic; his personality was contagious. 

“Just the greatest teammate and the best friend that anybody could ever ask for.”  

Sorenson moved from Texas to Gillette about two years ago, Williams said, along with “his awesome family.”  

He was on the Thunder Basin state championship basketball team last year as a sophomore, and was a starting player this year as a junior, Williams said.  

Sorenson also played golf for TBHS. 

‘Play For Max’ 

The basketball team decided to leave two days after Sorenson’s death to play in the Hoops City Classic tournament in Mitchell and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  

“We let the boys decide if they wanted to come to that,” said Williams. “And they ultimately decided they wanted to come and play for Max, and basically be together.” 

Williams said he and the team have been overwhelmed by support from the Gillette community, and even other tournament attendees in South Dakota.  

“We’ve had numerous people just come up and tell us how much we’re in their thoughts and in their prayers,” he said. “There are tough days ahead for everybody; and everobdy’s getting a ton of support, and I know the boys appreciate that.”  

Williams said it’s his understanding so far that Sorenson’s death was a “freakish medical situation.”  

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter