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College Basketball Player Learns About Dad's Death After Team Wins Game During NCAA March Madness

Jason Duaine Hahn
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College Basketball Player Learns About Dad's Death After Team Wins Game During NCAA March Madness

FSU's Phil Cofer Learns Dad Mike Cofer Died at March Madness

A Florida State University basketball player received tragic news following the school’s 76-69 victory over Vermont in the NCAA tournament this week.

Directly after the Thursday’s game, FSU power forward Phil Cofer, 22, was notified that his 58-year-old father, Mike Cofer — a former Pro Bowl linebacker with the Detroit Lions — had died after a lengthy battle with a rare illness, FSU athletic department spokesman Chuck Walsh told ESPN.

Warchant.com managing editor Ira Schoffel said teammates tried to comfort Phil as he broke down in tears at his locker after receiving the news. He did not play in Thursday’s game due to a right foot injury and did not speak with the media.

After playing for the University of Tennessee, Mike was drafted by the Lions, where he would stay for the next 10 seasons. He made the Pro Bowl in 1988 and retired from the league in 1992 after an ACL injury.

Following his career in the NFL, Mike would become a real estate investor, and also participated in stock market day trading.

Phil Cofer | Rich Barnes/Getty

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Mike was diagnosed with amyloidosis, which disrupts the normal function of the kidneys and other organs, in fall 2007.

Symptoms include swelling of the ankles and legs, fatigue, numbness in limbs, and enlarged tongue and an irregular heartbeat, Mayo Clinic reports.

In an interview with the News Sentinel in 2013, Mike remained optimistic despite his diagnosis.

Mike Cofer in 1988 | Getty

“At times the doctors looked at me as if I wasn’t going to live too much longer,’’ he told the newspaper.

“I’m a fighter. That’s in my genes,” he added.

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According to ESPN, Phil has averaged 7.4 points in 26.1 minutes per game this year after leading the team in scoring with 12.8 points per game last season.

FSU earned a 27-7 record this season and will play in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday. The school has not announced if Phil will be cleared to play.