Kentucky basketball star Terrence Clarke dies at 19

The star athlete with sights on an NBA career was the victim of a fatal car accident in the Los Angeles area

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University of Kentucky freshman and star basketball player Terence Clarke died after a car accident on Thursday in the Los Angeles area. He was 19.

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ESPN reported details of the accident that took the life of Clarke, a guard for the UK Wildcats. According to Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. John Matassa, the vehicle occupied and driven by the athlete ran a red light going “at a very high rate of speed” in the San Fernando Valley area at approximately 2:10 p.m. PT.

“The incident was captured on surveillance video. He collided with another vehicle that was preparing to make a left-hand turn. He struck the vehicle, hit a street light pole and ultimately hit a block wall,” Matassa said to ESPN. “He was transported to Northridge Hospital and was later pronounced deceased as a result of the collision.”

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Terrence Clarke (Credit: Getty Images)

According to law enforcement, the driver of the other vehicle suffered no injuries. Matassa added that Clarke was not wearing his seatbelt correctly behind the wheel of a 2021 Hyundai Genesis.

ESPN reported that Clarke was soon to begin a professional basketball career after he announced he would enter the 2021 NBA draft. The sports outlet shared that the young talent was a projected lottery pick entering the season, listed at No. 72 in the most recent version of ESPN’s top 100 best available prospects for the draft.

Clarke was signed to Klutch Sports, founded by Rich Paul.

“We are saddened and devastated by the tragic loss of Terrence Clarke. Terrence was an incredible, hard-working young man. He was excited for what was ahead of him and ready to fulfill his dreams. Our prayers go out to Terrence and his family, who ask for privacy during this difficult time,” the CEO wrote on Instagram.

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While at UK, Clarke kept busy on the court. According to ESPN, he played in the first seven games until an ankle injury held him to the bench until the end of the season. He finished the season averaging 9.6 points per game. Kentucky Coach John Calipari issued a statement on the loss.

“I am absolutely gutted and sick tonight,” Kentucky 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.

He continued, “Terrence’s teammates and brothers loved him and are absolutely devastated. They know we are here for them for whatever they need.I am on my way to Los Angeles to be with his mother and his brother to help wherever I can. This will be a difficult period for all those who know and love Terrence, and I would ask that everyone take a moment tonight to say a prayer for Terrence and his family. May he rest in peace.”

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Terrence Clarke (Credit: Getty Images)

According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Clarke is survived by his parents, Osmine Clarke and Adrian Briggs, and three siblings, Tatyana, Gavin and Madison. The Boston native showed excitement to begin his adult basketball journey in Kentucky and reflected on his time on the collegiate team when he announced his decision to go professional in March.

“As an adolescent, having the privilege to put on the Kentucky uniform and play in front of the BBN was always a lifelong goal of mine,” Clarke said in a UK news release. “Although it was hindered due to things out of my own control, the experience is something I will keep with me forever. I have grown a lot with this experience and I will never take it for granted.”

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens spoke emotionally during a postgame press conference Thursday as news of the tragedy began to spread.

“Those kids are important to us here. I’ve never met him but, my son looks up to him,” he shared.

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