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Former University of Kentucky basketball player Terrence Clarke dies in car crash

The accident in Los Angeles occurred as the 19-year-old was preparing for this year's NBA draft.
Image: Terrence Clarke obit, SEC Men's Basketball Tournament - Kentucky v Mississippi State
Terrence Clarke of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball at half court against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament in Nashville on March 11.Brett Carlsen / Getty Images file

LOS ANGELES — University of Kentucky freshman basketball player Terrence Clarke, who was preparing for this year's NBA draft, died Thursday in a car crash, the university said.

Clarke, 19, was a talented prospect with a bright future, the school's athletics department said.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari said, "I am absolutely gutted and sick tonight."

Calipari said he was headed to Los Angeles to be with Clarke's mother and brother.

The crash with another vehicle occurred Thursday afternoon in the San Fernando Valley, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson said.

Two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said Clarke was traveling at a high rate of speed and ran a red light. There were no other injuries reported, the LAPD spokesperson said.

“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," Calipari said in a statement. "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," he said. "We are all in shock."

Clarke was a 6-foot-7 guard. He announced in March that he was declaring for this year's NBA draft and said it had been a lifelong goal to play before the "Big Blue Nation," as the university's fan base is known.

"I had high expectations coming into this season and, of course, didn't expect to be injured, which I understand is part of the game," he wrote in a statement. "Thank you to Coach Cal, the coaching staff and my teammates! BBN, I hope to make you all proud as I pursue my dreams."

He was from Boston and signed with Kentucky in 2020. The university said he was one of the top prospects from the entire year's high school class.

The Boston Celtics tweeted their condolences to Clarke's family.

"He had a bright future ahead but had already made a huge impact off the court in the City of Boston," the team wrote.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he heard about Clarke's death after Boston's win against Phoenix Thursday.

"It's hard to talk about a basketball game." Stevens said, adding that his son looked up to Clarke.

Clarke started Kentucky’s first six games and was one of its top scorers, highlighted by a career-best 22 points in a loss to Georgia Tech on Dec. 6.He suffered a right leg injury and was limited to eight games overall in his season with Kentucky.

He is survived by his parents, Osmine Clarke and Adrian Briggs, and his three siblings, Tatyana Gray, Gavin Clarke and Madison Adrianne, the university said.