DECATUR, Ga. (AP) -- Hundreds of mourners gathered at a church near Atlanta Wednesday for the funeral of a Florida A&M University band member who is believed to have died from hazing.
The pews of Beulah Missionary Baptist Church in Decatur were packed with friends and family of Robert Champion. Champion's drum major uniform was on display next to his open casket, and a long line of mourners formed to pay their last respects. Members of the marching band from Southwest DeKalb High School, where he attended, were set to perform in their full regalia.
The 26-year-old junior was found dead Nov. 19 on a bus parked outside an Orlando, Fla., hotel after the school's football team lost to a rival. Police said Champion, a clarinet player, had been vomiting and complained he couldn't breathe shortly before he collapsed, but they have not released any other details.
Since Champion's death, the band director at the historically Black university in Tallahassee has been fired. The school has announced an independent probe, and the university president said he will work to end the long practice of hazing in the marching band.
The group that oversees Florida's public universities announced Tuesday it wanted to investigate whether the school did enough to respond to hazing.
Champion fell in love with music when he was about age 6. He started in bands in middle school and his mother said he was so enthusiastic about performances she called him "Mr. Band."
The Florida A&M band, known as the "Marching 100," was one of the most prominent in the nation. The band has performed at Super Bowls, the Grammys and presidential inaugurations.