By RICHARD LIPTON, Associated Press • ST.
LOUIS (AP) As the Charleston home where a former basketball star played for his high school team sold for $895,000 this month, the former players and friends of the young man who died from a rare form of cancer were eager to hear his final message: “I love you, Coach.”
The seller, Paul A. Clements, a longtime coach at South Carolina, is one of six family members who have died in the past four years.
The others are his father, Paul Clements Sr., and his wife, Julie, a retired high school basketball coach.
A man who had lived in Charleston for decades, he moved to the city in 1998 to take over a small community school.
But he quickly became a bitter critic of the school, calling it a place where he had to learn to work hard and live in fear of being suspended.
In 2010, he quit the school and took his son, J.J., and a handful of other students with him.
After years of criticism, he was removed from the program and the school’s governing body fired him in 2012.
After his departure, the school moved to an alternative setting, and he moved back to his hometown.
In a letter published in the Charleston Sentinel, Clements said he could no longer continue to work at the school without being “loyal to the people of South Carolina.”
He said he would like to be remembered as a coach who taught “his players to respect and honor the law.”
“I want to live the rest of my life as a good man, a good father, a true gentleman, and a true friend,” he wrote.
The Charleston school’s trustees said in a statement that the school had moved to a more sustainable environment and that Clements had left for good.
“The board wishes to thank the family of Coach Clements for their continued support of the Charleston School,” the trustees said.
A new school for the retired coach and his son will open in 2018, according to the Charleston Post and Courier (https://bit.ly/1N5l6N7 ).
The family had wanted the school to reopen for a year or two, but it has been nearly a year since the Clements family first moved into the home.
The house, built in 1927, has been vacant for more than a year, and the board has not yet decided whether to renew its lease.
The property, once owned by former NBA players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Kareem Olajuwon, was acquired in 2008 by a group that later bought the Covington, Kentucky, home of the former South Carolina coach.
Clements played for the school from 1962 until 1985, and it has not been clear whether he would be interested in returning to the school.
The school said in its statement that he will be remembered “for his remarkable contributions to his students, his family, the community and the state of South Carolinas.”
A funeral service for Clements was scheduled for Wednesday at the South Carolina State Capitol.