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Jose Garcia

Multimedia Journalist/Historian

Welcome back, Coop

Jan 16, 2013

A friendly face returns on Wednesday to covering his beat and is as upbeat as ever to do so.

We missed you, Bruce Cooper. But more importantly, Cooper’s family, friends and fans are happy to know that he is recovering nicely after suffering a heart attack in October.

(Bruce Cooper)

The popular Valley sports broadcaster will walk into the headquarters of KPNX Channel 12 today for the first time since that frightful October day. Cooper will return to his post with a different perspective on life, however.  

“I was home for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years,” Cooper said. “It’s been 27 years since I was able to spend those holidays at home with family. You gain some perspective while at home, looking into my wife and daughter’s eyes.

“They were near to losing a father and a husband. It (heart attack) changed my viewpoint on life. My job requires me to work nights and weekends, but what you realize is how far more important family is.”

Cooper also thought a lot about his son, Marquis, as he rehabbed. 

Marquis, a former NFL and Gilbert Highland player, died during a boating accident almost four years ago that the Coopers believe wasn’t an accident.  

“I can’t imagine what my wife (Donna) and daughter (Donielle) would have gone through if they would have lost me,” Cooper said.

Cooper was helping his daughter move when he lost consciousness on Oct. 30.

He said he doesn’t remember anything about that day other than moving furniture and sitting down to take a break.

Cooper flat-lined twice on Oct 30. A defibrillator was needed to revive him each time, first in an ambulance and then when he was at a Phoenix hospital.

After undergoing triple bypass surgery and being in a medically induced coma for three days, Cooper, 53, opened his eyes.

“All praises go to God,” Cooper said. “He certainly brought me through a trying and tumultuous time in my life.”

Genetics played a role in the heart attack Copper suffered, doctors told him, as  

heart disease runs in his side of the family.

Cooper has spent most of his time resting on a recliner during rehab, but has only needed one pill for pain since his surgery, he said. Returning to the job he loves was the next step in the process.

Cooper doesn’t know yet when he’ll return to on-camera duty, because his bosses want Cooper to take it easy at first. He’s is in his 27th year with Channel 12 and had missed only two days of work prior to his heart attack.

Tenure and strong work ethic aside, Cooper’s down to earth personality and ever-present smile have allowed him to form a strong connection with Valley teams and residents, who affectionately call him ‘Coop.’ He’s received a lot of get-well wishes from viewers, teams and athletes.

“I’ve been blown away by all of the support, prayers and love from everyone,” Cooper said. “From all of the pro teams to high schools, Arizona State and ex players I used to cover. It’s been overwhelming.”

Cooper has also formed a special bond with Arizona’s high school sports community.

The Mesa Westwood grad is the face of Channel 12’s popular Friday Night Fever high school football highlight show and dedicates as much time as he can covering high school sports. Cooper doesn’t know what his first assignment will be on Wednesday, but he and his fans are happy that he is back.

“I have mixed emotions about returning,” Cooper said. “I’m going to be nervous. It’s been 10 weeks. Yet again there is a lot of excitement. It’s been a long time. I’ve missed the camaraderie with my coworkers, the locker rooms and game atmosphere.”