“I’m just thankful and happy to be here,” the Corona, Calif., youth said. “Things could have been a lot worse.”
Jones was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a sometimes-deadly thickening of the heart that impedes blood flow. Doctors are recommending he receive a defibrillator implant. The family is seeking a second opinion.
The disease killed Loyola Marymount basketball star Hank Gathers, who collapsed during a game in 1990.
Jones, who is 6-foot-8 and weighs 220 pounds, is the starting center on the La Verne team, which won a state championship last year.
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His disease jeopardizes plans for the straight-A student to accept a basketball scholarship to West Point next year so he can study to be a doctor—a dream Jones has had since he was 5.
“I’d ask him, ‘Are you going to be an NBA player?’ and he would say, ‘No I’m going to be a doctor,’” Cooper said. “The decision was going to be based on his career, not just basketball.”
Jones is worried about the future but told the Times he is undeterred.
“I’m just happy to be alive,” he said.