Tuesday was a difficult day for Clemson head coach Brad Brownell and the basketball program, and it had nothing to do with its one-point loss at Virginia Tech.
Earlier in the day, Brownell learned the news of Bert Henderson’s sudden passing, a loss all of Clemson felt, but even more so for the basketball program. Henderson, along with his wife Lee Ann, were two of the biggest basketball supporters around, always visiting Brownell and his staff to see how things were going.
Lee Ann passed away from brain cancer in November. On Tuesday morning, Henderson was found lifeless on his property about a mile away from his Easley, S.C. home. Henderson, who was 60, will be laid to rest this afternoon.
“It was hard. It has been a hard year with both of them,” Brownell said on Thursday. “His wife, Lee Ann, they were both big basketball fans. Lee Ann came to me regularly during my time here and always wanted to know about the team and always wanted to know about the recruit. She always wanted to know about the schedule. She loved basketball.”
So did Henderson, who started his Clemson career as a trainer on the men’s basketball team. He eventually became an athletic administrator at Clemson where he served in many roles, right up to his death on Tuesday.
Brownell said Henderson was just like his wife, he was always supportive of the basketball program.
“You really admired Bert for the way his career trajectory happened at Clemson,” the Tigers’ head coach said. “He was always moving up and always being promoted, getting a new job and taking on new responsibility over in IPTAY, especially.
“He got his start in athletic training. He did a lot of things with basketball.”
In his first three or four years at Clemson, Brownell really got to know Henderson personally as the two spent a lot of time together on the road promoting Clemson Basketball.
“I was involved even more with him in terms of doing some fundraising things,” Brownell said. “I spent a little time with him one-on-one doing some stuff. He was just a very positive guy, and a guy who really carried for basketball. It was a difficult day on Tuesday.”