New information on crash that killed USC Aiken basketball player

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News 12 at 6 o'clock; March 20, 2009

AIKEN, S.C. --- New information on why USC Aiken basketball player Javonte Clanton was on his way home when he was killed in a car wreck this week.

Coach Vince Alexander says he did not know Clanton was heading home on Wednesday morning right after his team last in the Sweet 16 of the Division II Mens Basketball Tournament. But, he did hear that Clanton's mother recently had surgery, so he may have been on his way home to see her. Also, we've learned Javonte sent an e-mail to his professor to let him know he had to take care of a couple of things and he would be back on Monday.

Leadership, communication, collective responsibility and trust. Those are the four motto's Coach Vince Alexander preaches to his team. It's those four things Coach says was number 22, Javonte Clanton.

You can see in a smile from a picture at Javonte's home in Ohio, he just loved to play basketball.

"Thank you for giving me Javonte and now I say, God take care of it," says Javonte's grandma Brenda. She raised Javonte since he was just 3 years old. Javonte loved to get home as much as he could.

"He was something special," she adds. Special both on and off of the court.

"He's not happy unless everybody else is happy," says teammate Brian Egwuatu. "I remember the first time I saw Javonte without a smile on his face and it actually hurt me."

"He was one of the most determined and driven players I've ever coached, ever," says Coach Alexander.

"It feels good to know he left a lot of good memories," says Brian. Memories of the big shots and memories of the simple talks, like the one he had with Brian after the Pacers lost to ASU.

"We were leaving the locker room and I just gave him a casual hug and said I'll see you later," Brian tells News 12. That hug with Clanton, would be his last.

"Everyone on this team was crushed," says Chris Commons, another teammate of Clanton. "He influenced and touched us in all different ways."

The community,friends, teammates and even rivals, embracing as one on the campus Clanton called home, after Coach gave him another chance when no one else would.

"Unfortunately, I didn't get to finish with one of them and that hurts a lot," says Coach.

It was too short a legacy, one that will never leave the USC Aiken gym, the team or his family here and in Ohio.

"He was my heartbeat, he is," says Brenda.

"His picture will be in our locker room," says Coach Alexander. "Well just try to make sure that whoever wears number 22 will have the heart that Javonte Clanton had."

Funeral plans for Clanton are still not set, but it will be up in Ohio. The entire USC Aiken team will board a bus and travel up to the funeral sometime next week. Coach tells us he hopes it brings some closure but, he is not sure if that is exactly what he wants right now.

Coach also told us a story that when Clanton came to the team this year, he told his new coach he would have the highest GPA on the team. That's something that Clanton achieved this year, as well.

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