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Family searching for answers after medical mystery leaves 15-year-old in ICU

Payton Hudgins was a healthy, active 10th grader at Covington Academy but now he's in a medically induced coma in the hospital, and doctors don't know what's wrong.

ATLANTA — The family of a 15-year-old basketball player who mysteriously collapsed after winning a championship game is searching for answers.

Payton Hudgins was a healthy, active 10th grader at Covington Academy but now he's in a medically induced coma in the hospital, and doctors don't know what's wrong. 

If you drive by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, you might see Payton's name shining through one of the windows. 

His parents, Justin and Amanda, wrote scripture on post-it notes and taped them up on the window so everyone who comes by can pray for their son by name. 

"Payton is outgoing, he's ambitious, he's a leader. He's the type when we sit around the table to pray, he will jump right in and lead it. Not all 15-year-olds would pray like that. He is definitely a leader. A leader in the community, a leader in the school, the ball team. He's just a great kid," they said.  

The 10th grader at Covington Academy plays on the varsity basketball team and apparently shines on the court.

"That is his first love. I think he loves basketball more than us," joked his parents.

Payton had just helped his team win the regional championship game last Thursday when he started feeling off. 

"They were celebrating with the trophy, his coach asked him, 'are you ok?' And he said, 'no, I can't feel my legs,'" Amanda explained.  

A few minutes later, Payton passed out and had a seizure. 

He was rushed by helicopter to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta where he tested positive for the flu and COVID-19. 

"They're still continuing to dig because well they said that could be relevant, they're continuing to investigate because he's presenting with all these other symptoms that make no sense," Payton's mother added.  

Now, the 15-year-old is intubated and in a medically induced coma as doctors struggle to figure out what's happening. 

"He's a strong, athletic kid who loves playing basketball, and he was playing basketball, and then he wasn't," Amanda said. 

Payton has had a CT scan, an MRI, and dozens of tests run by doctors and nurses.

"Anybody that works in the children's hospital is a hero with a capital 'H,'" Payton's father said. "It takes a special person to do that because they love your kids as if they're their own."

Both parents said the hospital staff has prayed with them as they try to help their son. 

"We absolutely talk to him all the time. We pray over him. We want him to know that he's going to pull through this. We know he will have a wonderful testimony, but you can't have a testimony without a test," Justin concluded. 

Payton's teammates also drive up to the hospital just to stand outside his window. They know they can't get in, but they want to show his family how much they support and love #14. 

Friends of his family created a fundraiser to help cover the expense of what will be a long recovery.

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