Ex-Lakers star Michael Cooper’s brother killed at Pasadena park where siblings played as kids

The brother of former Lakers great Michael Cooper was fatally shot Saturday in the same Pasadena park where the siblings played basketball as youngsters.

Cooper, a basketball analyst for KABC-TV Channel 7, confirmed to the station that the victim of the shooting at Washington Park was his brother, Mickey, 64. Michael said he and Mickey played at the park as children.

Police responded to a shooting around 4 a.m. in the 700 block of East Washington Boulevard after being alerted by the ShotSpotter sound-detection system that recognizes loud, repetitive sounds that may be gunshots, according to the Pasadena Police Department. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

The ShotSpotter system was approved by the Pasadena City Council and implemented in early 2022 after officials were alarmed by a spate of violence that included a stray bullet taking the life of Iran Moreno-Balvaneda, a 13-year-old boy playing video games in his home.

Pasadena police documented 60 shootings with four people killed and 25 others injured from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, a figure that the department said increased by about 10% in 2021.

More than 700 firearms were confiscated in 2020 and 2021, many from vehicles, waistbands and from residences as a result of search warrants, Pasadena Deputy Chief Cheryl Moody said at a news conference after Iran’s slaying.

“The threat of gun violence is a true danger, and the Pasadena Police Department is working diligently to get guns off the streets and out of the hands of those who intend to harm others,” Moody said. The department will continue in its commitment to bring on extra patrols and intelligence gathering “to combat this rash of shootings.”

Michael and Mickey Cooper were raised in Pasadena primarily by their grandmother, Ardessie Butler, after their parents, Marshall and Jean, divorced when the boys were young. Jean, who had 10 siblings, worked as a registered nurse and the boys grew up in a hectic household.

“There were 18 of us scrambling around the table for dinner,” Michael said during his 12-year Lakers career. “And if you didn’t get there in time, you didn’t get no chicken.”

Michael Cooper, 67, went on to play on all five of the Lakers’ world championship teams in the 1980s and was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1986-87. He later became an assistant coach with the Lakers, the head coach of the WNBA Sparks, leading them to league titles in 2001 and 2002, and the head coach of the USC women’s basketball team.

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