Kentucky Basketball Star, NBA Draft Prospect Terrence Clarke Dies in LA Crash

Terrence Clarke, 19, was killed in a car crash in Los Angeles on Thursday, the University of Kentucky confirmed in a statement

In this March 11, 2021, file photo, Kentucky's Terrence Clarke plays against Mississippi State in an NCAA college basketball game in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee.
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

The world of professional and college basketball is mourning the loss of a young star.

Terrence Clarke, 19, was killed in a car crash in Los Angeles on Thursday, the University of Kentucky confirmed in a statement Thursday night.

Clarke, a Boston native, had recently finished his freshman season with the Wildcats and had declared for the 2021 NBA draft last month.

“I am absolutely gutted and sick tonight,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said in the statement. “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. 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."

The Kentucky basketball team's official twitter account posted a tribute to Clarke late Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 guard was reportedly returning from a workout in Los Angeles around 2 p.m. Thursday when he was involved in the crash, according to NBC's Lexington, Kentucky, affiliate LEX18.

Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant John Matassa, who works in the Valley Traffic Division, told ESPN that Clarke was a solo occupant in a vehicle that ran a red light going “at a very high rate of speed” in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles at approximately 2:10 p.m. PDT.


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Matassa said surveillance video showed that Clarke collided with another vehicle preparing to turn left, hit a street light pole and then a block wall. Clarke was taken to Northridge Hospital Medical and later pronounced dead.

Matassa said the other driver, who was in a truck, did not claim any injuries. Clarke was driving a 2021 Hyundai Genesis and not wearing his seat belt properly, according to Matassa.

NBC Boston reports that Kentucky teammate BJ Boston had been in a car behind Clarke and is reportedly okay.

Clarke entered the NBA draft after playing in just eight games last season because of a right leg injury. He averaged 9.6 points and 2.6 rebounds.

On Wednesday, he signed with Klutch Sports Group. Agency CEO Rich Paul announced on Twitter that he was saddened and devastated by Clarke's passing and called him "an incredibly hard-working young man."

Clarke started in Kentucky’s first six games and was one of its top scorers, highlighted by a career-best 22 points in a loss to Georgia Tech on Dec. 6. The injury ultimately sidelined him for the entire Southeastern Conference regular-season schedule, though he returned to post three assists and two points off the bench in the Wildcats’ SEC Tournament loss to Mississippi State that ended a 9-16 season.

Despite his limited action, Clarke announced his decision to enter the NBA draft on March 19 and lamented in a release that he didn’t expect to be injured. But he understood that it was “part of the game” and thanked Calipari and teammates among many.

Boston Celtics players and coaches reacted to the news of Clarke's death after their game against the Phoenix Suns Thursday night, NBC Boston reported.

Kemba Walker spoke about the Boston native's death.

"He’s a very good kid. Just always smiling, always energetic. He was about to get his opportunity too," Walker said. "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 mind-boggling to hear something like that, especially after the game."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens also heard reports about the crash.

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

Other reactions poured in from the NBA community.

Tyrese Maxey, a former Wildcat who now plays for the Philadelphia 76ers, posted a tribute to Clarke on Twitter.

The men's basketball coach at Clarke's high school alma mater, Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, tweeted a broken heart emoji along with a video of Clarke in response to the news.

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