La Verne Lutheran’s Xavier Jones in hospital and may not play basketball again, but he’s thankful to be living and for having a coach who knew CPR

Xavier Jones collapsed during a Thanksgiving-eve practice and was revived by the quick thinking of head coach Eric Cooper. Jones has been diagnosed with a similar heart condition that killed Loyola Marymount basketball star Hank Gathers, who collapsed during a game after a dunk in 1990. Fortunately, Jones is alert and feeling better at Pomona Valley hospital, where his family and doctors are mapping out his road to recovery.

Above: La Verne Lutheran basketball player Xavier Jones, 17, recovers after collapsing and going into a coma last week during basketball practice. He is being visited by his dad David Jones, center, and basketball head coach Eric Cooper at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center in Pomona on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010.

By Bethania Palma Markus, Staff Writer
Quick thinking by a coach meant a high school basketball stand-out and his family had his life to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.
Last Wednesday, senior forward Xavier Jones, 17, collapsed during practice for the champion La Verne Lutheran basketball team. But head coach Eric Cooper reacted immediately and was able to revive the athlete. “He saved his life,” father David Jones said of Cooper. The coach said he happened to be especially prepared to deal with the emergency. By chance, he had gone through a CPR tutorial application on his iPhone the night before the incident, he said. (To continue, click thread).

Both Cooper and David Jones chalked it up to intervention from a higher power.

“When it happened, that was too much of a coincidence for me,” Cooper said.

When the youngster collapsed, Cooper instructed teammates to call 9-1-1 while checking for a pulse and breathing. Cooper said he couldn’t detect signs of life and began CPR with assistant coach John Osorno.

By the time paramedics arrived, Jones was breathing again, Cooper said.

On Wednesday, Jones – known to his team as “X” – was sitting up in bed and talking to friends and family visiting him at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, where he’s being treated and monitored.

His mother, Linda Jones, described feeling overwhelmed but “very blessed” that Xavier survived the ordeal.

Family members said he had been diagnosed with a condition that causes thickening of the heart wall known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

The condition can be deadly. It killed Loyola Marymount basketball star Hank Gathers, who collapsed during a game after a dunk in 1990.

The straight-A student who was preparing to attend West Point military academy next year on a basketball scholarship.

He feared he might not be able to play anymore.

The Corona teen was planning to attend as a premedical student and become a pediatrician, he said.

His father said doctors want to implant a device that would defibrillate his heart if the same thing happens again. The family is seeking a second opinion.

“I’m worried about my future but I’m trying to to look at it with an open mind,” Jones said Wednesday.

Not being able to play anymore would be a big loss, he said.

“Basketball has been my primary tool in life,” he said. “It was going to take me everywhere.”

With him in the lineup, Lutheran went 28-8 and won the CIF-SS 5AA and state Division 5 championships.

But his family and friends described him as gifted and were thankful he still has his life ahead of him.

“School always came easy for Xavier,” David Jones said. “He’s a special kid.”

Staff writer Steve Ramirez contributed to this story.

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  • St. Lucy’s Volleyball Mom

    My heart sank when I read this…

    Xavier hang in there. Clearly you are an amazing young man and I am so happy that you are here with us today.

    I will pray for you and your family to continue to get better and stronger. You have a very bright future in front of you. Even if it is different than the one you thought you were about to endeavor. But the future is bright. Continue to be the star that you are.

    And God Bless your coach. I think every coach in every sport should take note as this could be anyones son/daughter.

    Blessing and prayers to the Jones family!

  • in violent agreement

    Amen to you St. Lucy’s Volleyball Mom! My sentiments exactly. There is no question that X will succeed in life off the court.

    God bless X and his family

  • FC

    West Point doesn’t give out athletic scholarships nor do they charge tuition. Any one know why? Still any man or woman who earns Military Academy acceptance is quite the accomplishment. I know Mr.s and Mrs Dalton over at SL have a daughter who will eb going to West Point.

    The young man is very fortunate, I did have a question about when the young man was diagnosed. My doctor was-part of the team that worked on Hank Gathers that night and was subsequently sued by the Gathers family. Luckily for my friend he was the first to be dismissed from all charges, cleared without a foundation of truth for any negilience on his part. I know it affected him tremendously and to this day he’ll say it was one of the darkest moments in his life. I was a patient of his at the time and we’d talk about things far beyond Dr./patient matters.

    Too mnay athletes ignore the warning signs, not saying this is the case here, but it’s been known to happen…espcially in the black community where athletics become a ticket out for many. Again I’m not saying this happened here as teh young man clearly ahs his priorities staright, kudos to his parents.

    Coach Cooper should be applauded for his actions but it does raise an intersting issue. How many area coaches are certified in CPR? How many schools have the means to step up in life threatening situations? Maybe some good can come of this for the “next” time when life and sports take on a new meaning.

    Now I haven’t read the Tribune today but this is front page news for sure. Has ESPN been made aware of the atcions of all nvolved? I know Apple would love to hear about the value of tehir “apps”..I mean ..”WHO KNEW”!!???

    Let’s try and spread the word of the actions that saved a young man’s life so others can take action and be better prepared. Who knows teh next life “we” save might be one of our own.

    Best of luck Mr. Jones….as we have learned once again, Sports aren’t Life…Life is LIFE!

    Talk about second chances.

  • BHS Mom

    So very glad to hear this young man is doing ok now. I am in total agreement with St. Lucy’s Mom as I have 3 kids in sports…this could have been anyone’s child and ALL coach’s should be well versed in CPR/First Aid. What a hero this Coach is! Praying for the family that good health will prevail!

  • sgvpride

    Shouldn’t coach cooper be certified? Or was he just messing around on a app? I’m confused a bit by the article, nonetheless what a great story.

  • Lut Fan

    said:Coach Coop thanks for being the person that you are ,not only as a winner on the court but a class act , as a Coach but a greater human being that always puts his player ahead of everything! God Bless! GO TROJANS!

  • Larry

    I am so sorry to hear this happened to you. I started playing bball when I was eight and I too planned on going to college and playing basketball. I had a scholarship to Santa Clara and in the summmer before fall classes started I was in a car wreck. I had to have four back operations. I lost my dream of playing ball in college and I know how you feel. You have been given a second chance at life and I’m so happy that your coach was there for you. My grandson carries the same first name as you. He is seven and already loves basketball. Good luck to you, Xavier. God Bless you. I wish you luck with whatever the future holds for you.


  • Kevin Chiu

    I see X everyday at school. He’s such a grea bball player. He always makes people smile in the classes I had with him last year! He’s strong inside and out! I got so much respect for X! You got this X!
    Go Trojans!!

  • Ashley

    When I went to La Verne Lutheran High I would see Xaiver (X) everyday . X was such full and love and laughter and I’m glad he is alive. X is such a sweetheart.

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  • I hope he gets better soon. It’s good to know that he has a very supportive family and a caring coach. God bless him and family!