Redding rallies behind basketball player after mother's death

Shasta High School freshman basketball player Rahtavian Lawson

REDDING, Calif. - The basketball crowd gathered in Shasta County to help out a Redding family dealing with tragedy.

Heather Dopp died Tuesday after giving birth to a baby boy. She had the child in her home on Railroad Avenue in Redding.

The newborn's name is Heath Romeo Dopp, named after his mother. He is one of her five children. The oldest is Rahtavian Lawson, a freshman basketball player at Shasta High School.

Friends, family, and teammates got together Friday for a fundraiser in their honor.

It was organized by freshman cheerleader Natalya Wood, a good friend of Lawson's.

"He's like a brother to me," said Wood. "Rahtavian's one of my really good friends. We've been close since fifth grade and this tragic thing happened and I felt obligated to do something."

That basketball brotherhood was on display at Harlan Carter Gym on the Shasta High School campus. It was much more than a typical freshman basketball game. The Wolves hosted the West Valley Eagles. Both sides were pulling for the teen.

"It's really made an impact on our school and brought us closer. Twitter has been going crazy with everything about Rahtavian and his family and it just means a lot," Wood said.

They passed around a couple decorated buckets to collect donations. The organizing students already collected more than $500 at Friday's student pep rally.

Even normal schoolyard rivalries are being put aside.

"It's really great because the whole seniors not liking freshmen thing isn't really taking place in this," said Wood. "They all love him and want to support him and his family."

Two of Dopp's three daughters attend Sequoia Middle School; the third goes to Cypress Elementary.

The Heather M. Dopp Memorial Fund has been set up at Tri Counties Bank. You can donate at any branch.

A memorial service has been scheduled for Monday at 4 p.m. in McLaughlin Auditorium at Sequoia School.

Everyone is welcome.