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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