After the Boston Celtics defeated the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night, the entire team and basketball community in Boston was stunned by the shocking news of the death of Kentucky basketball standout Terrence Clarke.
Clarke, a local 19-year-old from Dorcester, died as a result of a catastrophic car accident while on his way home from a workout in Los Angeles. Clarke’s future in professional basketball was inevitable, as he was preparing for the 2021 NBA Draft just after one short season with the Wildcats.
Terrence Clarke was frequently around the TD Garden and made friendships with several players of the Boston Celtics.
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens first learned of Clarke’s passing as he was on his way to his postgame interview. To which, Stevens didn’t have much to say about the game his team had just won or about basketball in general.
“To be honest, as I was walking down the hallway, I just heard this news about Terrence Clarke. I’m not sure how much I want to talk about the game. You know when you consider a Boston kid. I don’t know what’s real yet or can confirm, but I’ve read what you read. Those kids are important to us here and you know, I’ve never met him, my son looks up to him. It’s hard to talk about a basketball game with even the idea that that’s even floating out there.” – Brad Stevens, via NBC Sports Boston
Although Stevens didn’t have a relationship with Clarke, players on his team supported the highly talented Boston native. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Romeo Langford, and Javonte Green all had personal relationships with Clarke and can’t seem to fathom the fact that they lost a real fan and friend.
Being a five-star prospect from Boston and already a standout at Brewster Academy, Clarke decided to reach out to Tatum and Brown in 2019 via Instagram, in hopes of being able to meet the two young stars of the Boston Celtics. Since that very moment, Tatum and Brown took him under their wing and would work out with Clarke on off days and even casually hang out quite often.
“They kind of just influenced me to work hard every single day, especially on the off days, the days I come off of games, I talk to them every other day. They’re always working out, getting in the gym, preparing themselves for the extra games, stuff like that. Me being in the season, I work out with Jaylen, we work out, get shots in, 1-v-1s, stuff like that, just going at each other, make each other better. Jayson and Jaylen, those guys are big supporters for me.” – Terrence Clarke, via Tom Westerholm of MassLive
Brown and Clarke, however, had more time on the court together in 2019. To which, Brown called him a “super-talented kid” and was humbly thankful that Clarke looked up to him enough to ask about the process of the journey.
“I do have experiences and if they ask I’ll share it, but for the most part, a lot of these guys have a lot of great tools already just going into it. So I’m here if they need me, but at the same time, they’ll figure it out themselves.” – Jaylen Brown, via Tom Westerholm of MassLive
During his postgame interview, Walker was taken back a bit by the shocking news directly after the game. Walker knew Clarke well and had this to share about the tragedy.
“Very tough news. He’s 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 know what else to say. It’s mind-boggling to hear something like that.” – Kemba Walker, via NBC Sports Boston
Tatum, who is active on social media, shared a photo of him with Clarke, along with Green. As well as another photo of Clarke cheering him on from the stands at the TD Garden after Tatum hit a 3-pointer to erupt the fans of the Boston Celtics. As did Brown.
This is a tough loss for everybody. Clarke had so much NBA potential and the entire city of Boston supporting him to reach his dreams. Brown has suggested that the NBA allows there to be an additional pick at the end of the draft for Clarke’s name to be rightfully called as an honorary draftee in the 2021 class.
It would only be fitting if the Boston Celtics inherited the draft rights to Clarke.