The sports world reacts to the death of Terrence Clarke


Kentucky Wildcats guard Terrence Clarke (5) celebrates after making a three during the University of Kentucky vs. Notre Dame basketball game on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Notre Dame won 64-63. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Barkley Truax

Former Kentucky men’s basketball player was confirmed to have died in a car accident in Los Angeles, California, on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

Clarke’s agent at Klutch Sports, the management agency that Clarke signed to in hopes of being drafted in the NBA, released a statement confirming Clarke’s death.

“We are saddened and devastated by the tragic loss of Terrence Clarke,” agent Rick Paul said told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “He was an incredible, hard-working young man. He was excited for what was ahead of him and ready to fulfill his dreams.”

According to WKYT, Clarke was leaving practice with friend and UK teammate B.J. Boston when the accident occurred. The LAPD told WKYT that Clarke was not wearing his seatbelt when he “ran a red light, hit another car turning left, and continued on to then hit a pole and block wall.”

WKYT said Boston was in the car behind Clarke, who died on the way to the hospital. Clarke, 19, has just announced the day prior that he had signed with Klutch Sports.

Following the announcement of Clarke’s death, the sports world came together to honor the former Wildcat, who was just three months away from achieving his dreams in the NBA Draft. 

From teammates, to UK students, sports figures and more, thousands of people nothing but positivity to say about Clarke:

“His heart was overflowing with love for his family, his friends and his teammates. He was as caring of a person as I have ever coached. His enthusiasm and energy – not just for basketball, for life – are what we all hope to have in our journey,” John Calipari wrote in his tribute. “Terrence had figured that part out – that if you wake up every day with a smile on your face and a joy in everything you do, this life is beautiful.”

Calipari flew to California on Friday to be with Clarke’s family. Clarke played eight games in the 2020 – 2021 season for Kentucky before his season was cut short with an ankle injury.

A Boston native, declared for the NBA on March 19. His death led to an outpouring of grief from his home city. The Boston Red Sox memorialized Clarke with on a billboard in their stadium.

“Those kids are important to us hear and even though I’d never met him, I know my son looks up to him and hard to talk about basketball with even the idea floating out there,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

“Word’s 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 me lil bro name get called this year we need that,” Boston Celtic star Jaylen Brown said in an Instagram post.”

NBA stars and other athletes, including some of Clarke’s fellow Wildcats, also shared their tributes online.

“REST IN PARADISE NEPHEW!!! #YoungKing,” LeBron James wrote on Instagram.

“Just want to acknowledge and offer our sincere condolences for the Clarke family, the Kentucky basketball family and Kentucky athletics as a whole,” Kentucky volleyball player Madison Lilley said. “We really take a lot of pride in how we play for other teams and how we really are a family so sending prayers and thoughts during this tough time.”

UK students took the news hard. Clarke, with his upbeat attitude and support of his teammates, was a fan favorite despite not playing for most of the season.

“It’s truly awful. I’m a major basketball fan and he just signed with an agent,” UK student and sustainable agriculture major Ben Bayless said. “To lose a brother like that, I can’t even imagine. He was literally going to play professional basketball and that’s a dream that was about to come true.”

“He was one of my favorite basketball players,” freshman animal science major Michelle Snorden said. “It’s just so emotional and sad.”

“Terrence was a contagious spirit and loving soul, he was so nice and humble and would make everyone laugh,” freshman journalism major Michaela Michelle said.

“When I found out I was speechless. I was scrolling through my phone and saw an article about it and my heart sank,” junior neuroscience major Blake Francis said. “My condolences to the Clarke family.”

“I didn’t even know what to say last night. You want to talk about a kid that oozed charisma/personality on and off the court? That was Terrence,” junior broadcast journalism major Sam Gillenwater said. “Just signed a deal to change his life and now it’s over way too soon.”

Many more took to social media to honor Clarke or share memories.

A candlelight vigil will take place in front of Wildcat Coal Lodge Friday night at 8:30 p.m. All are welcome.