BOSTON (CBS) – Terrence Clarke, an NBA prospect from Boston, was killed in a car crash in Los Angeles Thursday afternoon.
The LAPD said Clarke was speeding in the Northridge area of the city when he ran a red light, collided with another car and hit a light pole. No one else was hurt in the crash.
The 19-year-old played for the University of Kentucky last season and had just declared for the NBA draft.
“I am absolutely gutted and sick tonight,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said in a 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.”
Long before Clark was putting up big numbers at Kentucky, he would put in long hours at the Vine Street Community Center in Roxbury. There, he honed his skills as a child to get ready for his bright future.
“When he first got here, he really wasn’t that good. He worked hard,” Vine Street Community Center Administrative Coordinator David Hinton told WBZ-TV Friday.
Hinton met Clarke when he first came to the center at just 10 years old and it quickly became his home away from home.
“He spent hours here, even recently he’d come here 6 or 7 in the morning to work out and you know he was just dedicated, a dedicated young man,” Hinton said. “Probably 5 or 6 years ago he really took off and he really became that great player and we felt that he had the opportunity to go to the next level.”
“It was shocking,” said Terrell Hollins, who coached Clark while the two were at The Rivers School in Weston. “He was great person to be around.”
Clarke finished his high school career at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.
“He arrived at Brewster as a sophomore, and quickly became a light to all who knew him with his open, positive nature and his truly infectious smile,” the school said in a statement Friday.
“All of us who knew Terrence here at Brewster grieve the loss of this incredible young man, and we embrace his family with support and love at this terrible time.”
He had become friends with Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown.
“Words can’t even explain fr what I hate the most the world didn’t even get to see how much potential you really had I hate you left with that on you @nba let my lil bro name get called this year we need that,” Brown wrote on Instagram early Friday.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens and guard Kemba Walker also spoke about Clarke after their game at the Garden Thursday night.
“To be honest I was just walking down the hallway just heard this news about Terrence Clarke. I’m not sure how much I want to talk about the game when you consider it, a Boston kid,” Stevens said. “Those kids are important to us here, even though I never met him I know my son looks up to him and hard to talk about a basketball game.”
“Very tough news man. He was a very good kid. Always smiling, always energetic. He was about to get his opportunity too. My condolences to his family,” Walker told reporters.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James posted a tribute to Clarke on Instagram overnight.
Clarke was in Los Angeles getting ready for the NBA Draft.
David Hinton got the news Thursday night. “This morning I just didn’t want to get out of bed. It was just a hurtful feeling, the staff is pretty devastated as well,” he said.
“He just enjoyed life and he enjoyed playing,” Hinton told WBZ. “We were very fortunate to have had him in our lives though it was cut short.”
At a vigil in Dorchester Friday, Clarke was remembered not only for his success on the court, but for his impact on the community.
“He was the hero to people older than him, people younger than him,” former teammate Julian Howell said. “Everybody he touched he made a better person.”