NBA Honors Late Basketball Star Terrence Clarke with Honorary Draft Pick After Fatal Car Accident
"His extraordinary talent, commitment and dedication to the game deserve to be recognized on this stage," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said
On Thursday evening, the professional basketball league paid tribute to the late basketball star, who died in a car accident earlier this year, during the first round of the NFL draft.
Taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, NBA commissioner Adam Silver took a brief moment to pause before he announced Clarke as the 15th and honorary pick.
"His extraordinary talent, commitment and dedication to the game deserve to be recognized on this stage," Silver, 59, said during the event. "It is my honor to now announce that, with the next pick in the 2021 NBA draft, the NBA selects Terrence Clarke from the University of Kentucky."
After he was posthumously selected for the honor, Clarke's mother, sister and brother were then invited onto the stage during the touching moment.
Back in April, Clarke died in a car accident in Los Angeles at the age of 19. The former University of Kentucky men's basketball player was the only person in the car at the time when he ran a red light, hit another car turning left, and then hit a pole and block wall, police told WKYT.
Clarke was not properly wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident, WKYT reported. The basketball player was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
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The University of Kentucky athletics department confirmed the news in a statement at the time, writing that the team was "absolutely devastated" by Clarke's death.
"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."
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Following the tribute at the NBA draft, Clarke's mother Osmine told ESPN, "He was so ready for [the draft], so excited."
"It's all he talked about, just going to the draft, like, 'Mommy, am I ready for this? This is big.' And I'm like, 'Yes, Terrence, you wouldn't be in this position if you didn't, if people didn't think you were this good,' " she added.
Those who knew Clarke also showed appreciation for the NBA including him in the draft on social media.
University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari tweeted, "Thank you to Adam Silver, Mark Tatum and everyone in the @NBA office who gave Terrence's family and all of us who loved him a special moment tonight. It shows the true heart of league and I thank you all," as the official Twitter account for the school's men's basketball team posted, "We know you're up there smiling, Terrence. You deserved this moment."
During the sporting ceremony, the Detroit Pistons selected Cade Cunningham, a guard from Oklahoma State, as the top overall pick in the draft. Others selected included the G League's Jalen Green, who went second to the Houston Rockets and USC center Evan Mobley, who was picked third by the Cleveland Cavaliers, among many others.