If it was 20 seconds later, Donte Grantham might not be with us today. He could’ve been like the 13 people who tragically lost their lives when a van crashed into a crowd of people in Las Ramblas area of Barcelona, Spain in what was a terrorist attack on Thursday.
The attack occurred across the street from the Clemson basketball team’s hotel. Thirteen people have been reported dead. Fortunately, there was no one from the Clemson basketball team or its travel party injured.
The Tigers were in Spain as part of 10-day trip which included four schedule exhibition games with local teams. However on Thursday there was no basketball and Grantham was right in the middle of the terrorist attacks when the events began.
With the team still 10 or 15 minutes from loading the buses to go play its final game, the Clemson senior journeyed just outside the hotel to buy his grandmother a souvenir in the square with his teammate Mark Donnal. That’s about the time he heard what sounded like gun shots.
“Mark was taking pictures so we kind of met halfway on the strip. Basically we were just talking a little bit and we just heard a really loud noise,” said Grantham after the team arrived back safely in Clemson on Friday. “At first we thought it was gunshots … that’s how loud it was.
“It sounded like shotguns kept going off. Then we just looked around and there was probably like 10,000 people just scattering everywhere, running at us. We saw people falling down, they just kept going down. We really didn’t stay to keep looking. We ran, got in our hotel and it was just hectic. A lot of people down there. That was really the most we saw. We didn’t really see the van but we just saw a lot of people falling down.”
Grantham said he had just gotten outside the hotel and he feels blessed to be here today.
“I just thank God I met up with Mark because I could’ve been there. It happened 20 seconds after I got outside. I just thank God,” he said.
As one can imagine, a lot of the Clemson people were still shaken up about what happened.
“It literally happened right outside our hotel,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “We had people see some things you don’t like to see. It really made the last 24 or 48 hours of the trip difficult, but we are all safe and sound and we were very blessed that our group (was safe).”
Brownell said there were a few minutes when they were a little concerned if they had all the players, the boosters and their academic advisor. She and her husband were out of pocket and were downtown and they could not get a hold of them for a little while.
“We were a little nervous,” Brownell said. “The hard part is you don’t know what you don’t see. The place where it happened is the pedestrian mall of Barcelona and it is packed, literally wall to wall with people on vacation so it was really just a horrific incident and then it literally happened right outside our hotel.”
Grantham said it was an unfortunate experience that will bond everyone who was there forever.
“The team got really close,” he said. “We had a few minutes together. Just really thinking, not taking anything for granted. Thank God that we are all here. I think it’s just going to make us closer as a team. Just a once-in-a-lifetime tragedy. I think we will become closer.”