LeBron's close friend pushes men to get healthy after friend's death

LeBron's close friend pushes men to get healthy after friend's death
Hoop for Coop (Source: WOIO)
Hoop for Coop (Source: WOIO)

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - He would be 35-years-old right now, but Kimyata "Coop" Cooper, Jr. didn't make it to see another birthday.

That's because on May 18 during a round of basketball at the Barberton YMCA, Cooper passed out on the court. He was rushed to the hospital where he died from a heart attack, but he died doing what he loved.

"He had ups and downs, but was on the track of doing some good things," Jerome Moss, organizer of "Hoop for Coop," an annual event promoting basketball and men's health.

Jerome Moss and Kimyata Cooper were childhood friends. They both grew up in Akron on the same street together.

Cooper played at the University of Akron-Wayne. He died just days after graduating with his bachelor's degree, and was set to attend University of Akron for his master's degree.

"The doctor said he had 80 percent of an artery blocked and 90 percent of another artery blocked. Doctors diagnosed him by saying he was a walking time bomb," said Moss.

Cooper is gone, but there's a push to make sure his legacy lives on through others using basketball and health.

"We will have several alumni teams from high schools in Akron, like Saint Vincent-Saint Mary High School and Buchtel High School," said Willie McGee, Athletic Director for Saint Vincent-Saint Mary High School in Akron.

Willie McGee knows how big basketball is in the Akron community. As a member of the "Fab 5," he played alongside his good friend LeBron James at Saint V.

"Basketball is huge in Ohio opening up on Thursday and the guy on the team being LeBron James, it's huge," said McGee.

"It's something a lot of kids in Akron and around the world look up to, to do something you love and lose your life doing it is something."

The draw in is basketball, and the take away is for 100 men who walk through the doors of the East Community Learning Center to know their health status.

Various health screens will be done for free by Cleveland Clinic Akron General.

The event is Sat., June 3rd from noon to 5 p.m. at East CLC, located at 80 Brittain Road in Akron.

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