The NBA paid tribute to late college basketball standout Terrence Clarke with an emotional gesture during its annual draft.
During the event that took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Thursday, July 29, NBA commissioner Adam Silver took a pause before announcing the 15th pick and selected Terrence with an honorary pick. Terrence was just 19 years old when he passed away in April following a car crash in Los Angeles. A month prior to the accident, he had entered the NBA draft after completing his freshman season at the University of Kentucky.
"His extraordinary talent, commitment and dedication to the game deserve to be recognized on this stage," Adam said from the podium. "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."
The commissioner welcomed Terrence's mother and two siblings onto the stage, with the athlete's mother in particular getting quite emotional. Adam told Terrence's loved ones that the late player "will forever be part of the NBA family."
"He was so ready for it, so excited," his mother told ESPN about the draft in a segment that aired following the tribute.
Among those showing appreciation for the NBA's gesture was University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari. He tweeted his thanks to "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."
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."
With the top overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft, the Detroit Pistons selected 19-year-old Cade Cunningham, a guard from Oklahoma State.