Kentucky's John Calipari Pens Open Letter After Terrence Clarke's Death

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2021

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 11:  Terrence Clarke #5 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball at half court against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the first half of their second round game in the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 11, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Kentucky head men's basketball coach John Calipari wrote an open letter Friday sharing his thoughts following the death of former Wildcats guard Terrence Clarke on Thursday.

Calipari published the letter on his website and fondly remembered Clarke as a positive and loving person and player:

"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. 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. 

"I think that is part of the reason why you see unbelievable magnitude of heartache today from everyone across our game and our country. Terrence had that spirit about him that rubbed off on every single person that was fortunate to cross paths with him. He was the person everyone wanted to be around and the guy everyone gravitated to."

Calipari also noted that he recently felt that he should reach out to the Kentucky players who weren't going to be returning next season, including Clarke, but he never got a chance to do it. That's left him feeling regret but taught him an important lesson.

"What I will learn from this is that when you want to tell someone how you feel or just want to talk to them, don't wait," he wrote. "Don't wait for tomorrow to put your arms around someone and tell them you love them or that you're thinking about them. Every day we have is a gift."

Per ESPN, Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. John Matassa announced Thursday that Clarke died in a car accident in L.A.

Matassa said Clarke ran a red light "at a very high rate of speed" before colliding with a vehicle, light pole and block wall. The person driving the other vehicle was uninjured.

In a statement released after Clarke's death, Calipari said he was "gutted and sick."

Calipari summed up his relationship with Clarke in the letter: "I loved Terrence Clarke and I was hard on Terrence Clarke. I made sure he knew both because I would tell him. I wanted what was best for him, and there is no doubt in my mind that he was headed towards greatness."

Clarke was a freshman at Kentucky this past season, but he was limited to just eight games due to injury. In those games, Clarke averaged 9.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

The talented guard from Boston declared for the 2021 NBA draft at the conclusion of the season and hired Rich Paul of Klutch Sports as his agent.