As the Boston Celtics were wrapping up a win over the Phoenix Suns, a horrible rumor was making rounds on Twitter.
Terrence Clarke, a former Kentucky basketball standout and one of the best prospects to come out of Boston, had been involved in a car accident and was dead at 19 years old.
“We are saddened and devastated by the tragic loss of Terrence Clarke,” Paul said, via Wojnarowski. “He was an incredible, hard-working young man. He was excited for what was ahead of him and ready to fulfill his dreams…”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens was on his way to his postgame media availability when he heard the news, and though nothing had yet been confirmed, Clarke was all he could think about.
“To be honest as I was walking down the hallway I just heard this news about Terrence Clarke, and not sure how much I’d want to talk about the game,” Stevens admitted. “When you consider it, a Boston kid, I don’t know what’s real yet, I’ve not heard anything confirmed, but I’ve read what you’ve read, and those kids are important to us here. And I’ve never met him, know my son looks up to him and (it’s) hard to talk about a basketball game with even the idea that that’s floating out there and I pray that’s not true but, yeah.”
The news hit close to home.
Though Stevens didn’t know Clarke, born in Dorchester, Mass. and raised in Roxbury before playing prep at Brewster Academy, plenty of his players did.
Clarke sought mentorship from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and was a frequent guest of theirs at Celtics games ever since reaching out to the All-Star wing duo on Instagram.
Clarke had just signed with Klutch Sports, and as Kemba Walker mentioned, was on the verge of his own opportunity.
“He was a very, very good kid,” Walker said after mentioning he knew Clarke very well. “You know, always smiling, always energetic. And he was about to get his opportunity, too. My condolences to his family. You know, that’s a tough time, that’s really, that’s really tough news to hear. I don’t even know what to say. It’s kind of tough. It’s kind of mind-boggling to hear something like that, especially after a game.”
Clarke had declared for the upcoming NBA Draft, and was just three months shy of reaching his goal and bringing his city all the way up with him.
“I’m working my hardest just so I can get there,” Clarke told MassLive in a Dec. 2019 interview.
“I know I want to put on for everybody else in the city, especially me being from Boston, if I was to even play in this gym, I’d be blessed as ever. I’m working my hardest so I can put on for my city.”
Clarke was on his way there, but the Celtics still should find a way to honor him in TD Garden forever.