Basketball world ‘gutted’ over Terrence Clarke’s death

The basketball community is devastated over the death of NBA prospect Terrence Clarke.

The freshman Kentucky Wildcats guard died in a car accident after leaving a workout in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Clarke, 19, had announced last month that he was entering the 2021 NBA Draft and had signed with Klutch Sports — the same agency that reps stars such as, LeBron James, Ben Simmons and Draymond Green.

Following news of Clarke’s death, an emotional Brad Stevens addressed the tragedy following the Celtics’ 99-86 win over the Suns on Thursday night. He noted that while he didn’t know Clarke — a Boston native — personally, his son looked up to the Kentucky product.

“Not sure how much I want to talk about the game when you consider he is a Boston kid,” Stevens said. “Those kids are important to us here. I never met him, I know my son looks up to him. Hard to talk about basketball.” 

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NBA players, coaches and fellow draft prospects took to social media to share their condolences and memories with Clarke — who was close with many of the league’s stars, including Jazz point guard, Donovan Mitchell, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and more.

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In the postgame on Thursday night, Celtics point guard Kemba Walker also spoke about Clarke’s promising future.

“Very, very tough news, man,” Walker said. “He was a very good kid. Always smiling, always energetic. He was about to get his opportunity, too. My condolences to his family. It’s a tough time. That’s really tough news to hear. I don’t even know what to say. It’s kind of mind-boggling to hear something like that, especially after a game.”

Kentucky head coach John Calipari said in a statement on Thursday that he was traveling to Los Angeles to be with Clarke’s mother and brother.

“A young person who we all love has just lost his life too soon, one with all of his dreams and hopes ahead of him. Terrence Clarke was a beautiful kid, someone who owned the room with his personality, smile and joy,” said Calipari, who was admittedly “gutted” and “sick” over the news.

“People gravitated to him, and to hear we have lost him is just hard for all of us to comprehend right now. We are all in shock. Terrence’s teammates and brothers loved him and are absolutely devastated. They know we are here for them for whatever they need… may he Rest In Peace.”

Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul released the following statement to ESPN:

“We are saddened and devastated by the tragic loss of Terrence Clarke. He was an incredible, hard-working young man. He was excited for what was ahead of him and ready to fulfill his dreams. Our prayers go out to Terrence and his family, who ask for privacy during this difficult time.”

Clarke was in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles when the accident occurred at approximately 2:10 p.m. PT, Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. John Matassa said.

Clarke was driving a 2021 Hyundai Genesis that ran a red light going “at a very high rate of speed,” Matassa said, noting that Clarke was the only occupant in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

Matassa, who said Clarke was not wearing his seat belt properly, continued:

“The incident was captured on surveillance video. He collided with another vehicle that was preparing to make a left-hand turn. He struck the vehicle, hit a street light pole and ultimately hit a block wall. He was transported to Northridge Hospital and was later pronounced deceased as a result of the collision.”

Clarke, a 6-foot-7 guard was a five-star recruit out of Brewster Academy (N.H.) in 2020. He averaged 9.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists in eight games for Kentucky during the 2020-21 season.

Clarke was limited to eight games due to a right leg injury.

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