Lonnie Cooper didn't even think about ending his playing days when a sports hernia cut his season short in the European professional league with Al Riyadi in Lebenon in 2010.
The former all-state guard from McCall, who went on to a successful college career at Louisiana Tech, was a veteran that still had gas in the tank and wanted another shot on the professional level.
But when Cooper came home for surgery and rehab, he made the toughest decision he had ever had to make -- one he doesn't regret today.
"I got home and was playing with my son and he was into basketball and soccer and those things," Cooper recalled. "I left it up to him. I said, 'Do you want daddy to go back and play basketball?' and he said, 'No.' He wanted me to be here with him. That is what changed my mind."
Cooper's son, Drew, now 5 years old, gets to see his father every day now as opposed to only occasionally when Cooper played in a country on the other side of the world.
"Injuries happen -- they are part of the game," Cooper said. "And I had been overseas for 13 years. It was time."
Now that Cooper was back in northeast Louisiana, he wanted to stay around the game and give back to the game that had given him so much over the years.
Cooper got the opportunity to join Michael Hunter's staff at West Monroe High School last summer.
"It isn't about me now. It is about teaching," Cooper said. "These guys see all this stuff on TV, and they try to emulate it. I want to teach them the fundamentals of the game and make them a better basketball player."
Cooper got back on the court with some of his McCall alumni last weekend in the "Legends of the City" tournament held at Monroe's Wossman High School.
Cooper has not lost his competitive edge since retiring nor his quest for getting the best out of himself or those around him.
"It is always exciting to come back and play with those guys," Cooper said. "It is fun, but it is always competitive all these years later."