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Terrence Clarke Covers SLAM 234

It was the light that he had. That’s what stood out to her most in the photo of her son. How angelic he looked. How happy he looked. How the light not only radiated onto his face but shined through him. It’s one of Osmine Clarke’s favorite memories of her 19-year-old son, Terrence, who tragically passed away in a motor vehicle collision in Los Angeles on April 22, 2021.

“We called Terrence and said, Terrence, is that a filter? And he was like, Mommy, that’s just me! Like, he just had this beautiful light,” Osmine recalls on a rainy afternoon in August, exactly four months since Terrence passed. She’s sitting down on a plush grey loveseat inside the dimly lit, yellow-painted living room at her mother’s house in Boston, telling the story.

She remembers she was at an IHOP in Brockton with her daughter Tatyana when she saw the photo on March 19. That same day, Terrence had declared for the 2021 NBA Draft, and in what appears to be a screenshot of a Face Time call, Terrence is looking slightly away from the camera and smiling a wide, cheeky grin as the sun beams down on him. The words, “Guess who just declared for the draft! Congrats broo I’m so proud of you” are written in the caption.

“His melanin was definitely poppin’,” says Taty, who is standing behind the couch while entertaining her 4-year-old brother Gavin.

“He had this beautiful light,” Osmine adds, gently smiling at the memory. “It just looked so beautiful. I thought it was amazing, as if it was an angel. There’s so many things leading up to now and Terrence passing that, it’s almost like, I don’t want to say a premonition but it’s like, this is an angel but eventually we have to take him.” 

Her voice breaks and the emotions start to overcome her. Gavin, who has just climbed up onto her lap, reaches over to a box of tissues on the wooden table beside them and hands one to her. 

Here you go, Mommy. 

“I think that everything leading up to the accident were, like, signs,” Osmine repeats. “But we could have never known that [then].”  

SLAM 234 featuring the late-Terrence Clarke is available now. All proceeds from the sale of this issue will go directly to his Terrence’s family and the TClarke5 Foundation.

Terrence Adrian Clarke was born on September 6, 2001, a month after his expected due date, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Even during the early years of his life, he always knew that he wanted to go to the League. 

His father Adrian would often take him to Boston Celtics games as a kid, and at 8 years old, Terrence met his favorite player, Rajon Rondo, who told him to “keep working.” There’s a photo, Osmine recalls, from one of the games where Terrence is on the court and looking up at the basketball. The look on his face says, I’m going to be here

“When he came back from the games he said, Mom, I’m going to be in the NBA. He just spoke it into existence, like, This is what I want to do.”

Brandon Watson, Terrence’s gym teacher at Young Achievers Academy in Mattapan, recalled a young boy who picked up the sport in second grade, showing a serious commitment to the game even back then, so much so that he’d cry whenever he had to finally leave the gym. 

Growing up, Terrence spent most of his time at the Vine Street Community Center in Roxbury, where he trained with his mentor Dexter Foy, whom he met when he was entering fifth grade. Terrence was playing at Tobin Community Center in Roxbury when Dex and AAU coach Maurice Smith first noticed him for his height. They were looking for someone tall to join their team, the Titans, and that’s when Dex went up to Terrence and asked for his mother’s phone number.

That was the beginning. Not long after, Dex started taking his two sons, Jamari and Keon, and TC to work out at Vine Street, where he’d set up ballhandling and shooting drills. Even then, Terrence’s passion for the game was undeniable, and he showed a deep, innate desire to want to get things right. To want to do things the right way, regardless of what others think. 

It made him emotional at times, both on and off the court. Osmine and Dex both remember the time when Dex took the boys to see one of the Fast and the Furious films at the Randolph movie theater. The other kids didn’t want to go, but T refused to do what the majority wanted. He was set on something happening, and like any kid would do, he threw a fit to get his way. 

“He was like, Do you know everybody else didn’t want to go to the movies? And I still told Dex, I want to go regardless!” Osmine recalls, laughing. “And I was like, Terrence, you can’t be selfish! That’s typical Terrence. Have you ever seen him when he’s playing?” Osmine then gets up and starts mimicking Terrence pouting up and down the court, arms waving. “When you [saw] him go like this, that means he’s in his funk.”

Dexter says that during those moments, Terrence was just misunderstood. “He had so much passion on the court. He just wanted things to be right. I think that [came] from his training. You know, Terrence put in a lot of work. He was training so much that he just wanted everything to be right. And when it wasn’t right, I think it came off differently to people. But they don’t know what he’s gone through to get to that point.”

SLAM 234 featuring the late-Terrence Clarke is available now.

Terrence once said that he didn’t get much of a childhood because he was always playing basketball. He didn’t even learn how to ride a bike until ninth grade, Dexter later reveals. Terrence was in the gym, committing himself to workouts with his trainer Brandon Ball. 

At first, Ball only trained the athletic shooting guard once a week, but that soon progressed into twice-a-week sessions. As Terrence got older, the two of them started working out every day, even twice a day. Ball would later pick Terrence up from his grandmother’s house at 5 am to train before school. 

“You [didn’t] have to tell him things twice. He [got] it right away,” Ball says. “To the point where he could see something right away and go act it out in terms of every step that was in the movement, the rhythm of it. If you [taught] him a read, he [was] going to be able to pick that read up right away in the game, in live action. He’d get things so fast.” 

After attending a camp at Syracuse University and heading into his sophomore year, Terrence told Ball how everything was starting to click for him on the court. All of his hard work was coming together. “He was like, B, it’s easy, now. I’ll never forget that. It was one of the moments when I really started seeing things turn for him. The confidence.” 

Terrence brought that energy with him to the NBPA Top 100 Camp in 2018, where he averaged 10.4 ppg. Dexter went with him, and it was there that he saw Terrence hold his own against the other top prospects in the country. 

“You heard rumblings of him having chances to make the NBA,” Dexter says. “But after we left that camp, [I remember] him and I talking and realizing that this is obtainable.”