By Hamil R. Harris, Special to the AFRO
It was less than one second in the game. The Maryland Terrapins were trailing Georgia Tech by one point. The ACC was on the line and even though a half- court shot was good, it had been invalidated by a time out call.
Cliff Tucker always wanted to play basketball for Maryland. He turned down many offers, including a scholarship from the University of Texas at El Paso. There was 1.5 seconds on the clock and a life time of camps and grooming by his Army parents had prepared Tucker for his chapter in Maryland basketball history.
The ball was passed into play. Tucker got it, turned around and drained the shot as the buzzer went off, propelling the University of Maryland in 2010 to one of the greatest victories in school history.
“Cliff will always be remembered for the shot. It was all net,” said former Maryland Head basketball coach Gary Williams. Williams, members of the 2010 Terrapin team and many former players were all on hand June 10 to celebrate the legacy of Clifton Tucker. “It was a great shot from a great player.’
On May 29th the former Maryland star died in a car accident while returning home to El Paso from San Antonio. Tucker played 131 games from the Terps between 2007 and 2011 and in 2009 and 2010 he helped lead the team to the NCAA tournament. During his senior year he was the team’s top three -point shooter.
Tucker was one of three people who died and four others injured in the accident along Interstate 10. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Tucker lost control of the vehicle after the tread from the right rear tire separated and the car veered out of control.
A memorial was held for Tucker at Chapin High School in El Paso, a funeral was held at the 1AD Chapel at Fort Bliss because his mother and father were career Army soldiers and the final service was held in College Park because his parents, grand-parents and many relatives were from Maryland, Virginia and the cities up and down the East Coast.
During his service at the University of Maryland, people laughed and cried as the coaches told the story of a tall happy kid who came to the College Park campus for a sports camp and caught the eye of the Maryland basketball program. There were stories about how Cliff vowed to be a good father to a little boy born his freshman year. There were stories about driving a golf cart to get pizza with permission and Williams told the story of how the entire team turned on him after he scolded Tucker.
Tucker’s father, grandfather and son wore No. 24 jerseys to the funeral and despite her grief, his mother Regina, hugged the hundreds of visitors who attended the service and burial at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Suitland.
A number of people made the trip from Texas to Maryland with Tucker’s family including Army Captain Cynthia Turner, the family’s pastor and chaplain at Fort Bliss. Turner said “We live in this world where things happen and we can’t fully understand.”
“No man knows the day nor the hour when death will come,” Turner said. “Life is short. The time is now to live life and to live it in its fullness. “
In 2011, after not being selected for the NBA draft, Tucker returned to El Paso where he played football for the University of El Paso football team. In 2012 he was drafted to play football overseas for several years. He is survived by his son Dallas, daughters Dianna and Destinee, mother Regina, father Cliff Sr. grand parents Willie Mae and Levett Brown and many other relatives across the country.