RIP Rah Rah Cooper
A fellow graduate, Blake McDonald, wrote this about the recent death of a friend:
A sad day for the Fayetteville family. Last night our boy Rah Rah Cooper was shot and killed. I don’t know the specifics yet as to why this happened and frankly, I don’t really care. All I care about is the memories of Rah Rah that will be kept with me forever.
We went to different Jr. High Schools and I knew who he was but I never actually met Rah Rah until our first day of spring football following our Freshman season. As the youngsters on the team, the Freshman were treated like scrubs. Our locker room was literally older than the school itself and had the infamous nickname of “The dungeon.” There wasn’t enough room for us in the regular locker room so we were forced to change and “shower” there. One day, a few seniors came into our locker room and began knocking over trash cans and spitting threats of hazing. I was about 5’11” and 130 lbs at the time. The seniors were lions and I, I was the weakest, slowest of the gazelles. I was the one on the Discovery channel you see with 3 legs and an abnormally large head that weighed me down even more. Almost immediately 2 seniors came over to my locker. One was merely talking at me but the other decided to pick me up by my shirt and raise me against my locker as if he was trying out for a “bully” role in a John Hughes flick. Rah Rah, who had never spoke to me before, and played defense, came over and said “Put down my Quarterback.”
I had my eyes closed out of freight the whole time so I don’t know how, but either Rah Rah intimidated them or they were already friends with him but somehow, nothing happened. He introduced himself with a smile and had my back ever since.
One of the most fun loving people I’ve ever come across. Nothing could stop him from smiling. I remember one day during the summer football workouts the team was being punished. The running was brutal and most of us started dropping like flies. It was one of those conditioning sessions where you start to mumble “Fuck this… why are we having to do all this bullshit…. I can’t believe we haven’t stopped yet.” I wasn’t a strong guy but I was one of the more in-shape players on the team and even I was bending over, hands on my knees with my head hanging over. I began to mumble more pessimistic nonsense when I saw Rah Rah. He was 275 lbs and laying spread eagle on the turf and just grinning at me.
“This sucks” I told him.
“Sure does bruh, but bitching don’t get it done” he said with a chuckle. “My ass might be on the ground but I’ll get up to run this next one. Just don’t let me beat ya or else you gotta carry my ass back up the stairs”
“Bet” I told him. He chuckled again.
I also remember the first time I saw Rah Rah cry. We had just made the playoffs and were playing Bryant in the first round. Rah Rah was on crutches because a few weeks earlier, he had torn his ACL. He didn’t cry then and he never acted like his knee was bothering him. But when we took the field that night to play, Rah Rah let loose. I ran over to him before kick off to shake his hand, give him a hug, and tell him ”We got this.” But before I could open my mouth, Rah Rah shoved his head into my chest, gave me a bear hug that nearly knocked me down, and said “I love you guys, Blake. It kills me that I can’t be out there tonight with you boys.”
Rah Rah also defined toughness. The worst injury I’ve ever suffered is a broken wrist. I’ve sprained an ankle pretty bad, suffered a concussion, and been diagnosed with Swine Flu. But I can’t even imagine the feeling of tearing an ACL. A lot of people have experienced this unfortunately common injury in football. But I don’t know many who dealt with it like Rah Rah did.
After beating Bryant in the first round, we had to face Bentonville; a team that whooped our ass in the regular season at home. This time however, we had to play at Bentonville, in front of 7,000 people wearing all black to support their No. 1 ranked Tigers and their All-state running back who ran for 311 yards against us the first time. Because of his injury, Rah Rah did not play in that game.
The school was kind of crazy the week of the Bentonville game. It was the last full week of classes before Thanksgiving break and we were in the semi-finals of the playoffs against a rival. I walked into the locker room to do my normal pre-practice routine when I saw Rah Rah, with his crutches leaning against the adjacent locker to his left, putting his practice pants on over a giant, rugged leg brace that looked as if it had been worn by 50 players in the past. He told me he was going to play this week and there was nothing anybody could do to stop him. I just nodded my head and thought, best not to say anything else about it, I know he means what he says.
Four nights later, against a heavily favored Bentonville team, Rah Rah took the field. As the end of the first half was drawing to a close, Bentonville was in the middle of a two-minute drive and trying to add points before the close of the quarter. On third and medium in the red-zone, the quarterback dropped back and scrambled to his right to buy time. The second he left the tackle box, a taped right hand flew at his ankle and grabbed ahold his leg until the quarterback fell to the turf. The Tigers who were hoping to score a touchdown, were forced to settle for a field goal instead. That hand was Rah Rah’s and on one leg, he beat a double team and dove off the wrapped leg to make the play.
At the end of the night, we had bested Bentonville by 7 points and Rah had 2 sacks.The second sack came in the fourth quarter while Bentonville was down 14 points. After he made the play he quickly rose up to do a one-legged dance before heading back to the huddle. When the game ended, we all celebrated and headed to the visitor’s locker room. Rah Rah was limping pretty noticeably and plopped down on the bench like a sack of potatoes hitting the ground.
”Hurt?” I asked moronically.
“I will tomorrow bruh, but right now, this is too nice”
“Sure is Rah Rah, sure is.”
I don’t know what else I can say about the guy that anybody who has ever met him doesn’t already know. Rah Rah, you will be dearly missed brother. We didn’t keep in touch as much as we should have the past two years and I blame myself for that.
Our lives will be lesser without your presence but I promise to keep memories like these with me forever. I know there’s nothing I can do to bring you back or assure myself that I’ll ever see you again in a next life. I don’t even know what do other than sit and succumb to the feelings of nostalgia. But I do believe that if we got to say goodbye and you had one more thing to say to me it would’ve been, “Quit bitching and smile fool.”
Love you Rah Rah. Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog. I can’t promise I’ll be in a good mood right now but after the passing of grief, it will be a personal goal of mine to embody a mere ounce of the positivity, love, and happiness you shared with us all for so long.
I didn’t know Rah Rah that well. I don’t even know Blake that well. And I don’t know what happened that led to his death. The police reports are different from what his neighbor told me. But I do know that regardless of what took place, it’s always a tragedy to lose somebody.
Everyone who knew Rah Rah loved him. I met him in the 6th grade, and all I remember is his afro and that he hated being called Roderick. He’s notorious for always having a big huge grin across his face.
I don’t really know how to end this note because I don’t know what to think. But from what I’ve read, tonight, everybody is a Fayetteville Bulldog again.