Never has ‘Clemson Family’ meant more

Never has ‘Clemson Family’ meant more

Basketball

Never has ‘Clemson Family’ meant more

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Former Tigers from basketball and football come together to help Sharone Wright

Never before has the Clemson Family stepped up as it did on Monday. Former Tiger greats in football and basketball, and from as far away as California, came together at the Walker Course in Clemson to help out a former student-athlete in his greatest time of need.

Sharone Wright, who played basketball at Clemson from 1991-’94, lost his left leg eight months ago from an infection due to pressure buildup from internal bleeding or swelling of tissues. The loss of his leg, as well as all of the medical bills he piled up while fighting off prostate cancer in 2016, have caused the former NBA star to fall into some financial hardships.

Monday’s event at the Walker Course was a benefit golf tournament to help take some of the financial strains off of Wright as he tries to recover and learn to walk on his prosthetic leg.

“When Sharone got sick, he did not want to tell anyone or do nothing,” longtime friend and Clemson teammate Wayne Buckingham said. “I thought, ‘What could I do to help him out?’ And God put on my heart to dedicate my tournament this year to him and everything. I reached out to the guys to see if they could come in.”

The tournament was originally scheduled in June, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was moved to Monday. Still, most of the 18 members of the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame, who had already committed to play, found their way to the Walker Course on Monday to help out.

“Personally, Sharone and me are not the closest, but he is a part of the family,” former Clemson and NBA star Elden Campbell said. “So, it was easy for me to come out here and support him and do something like this where we can benefit him.”

Besides Buckingham and Campbell, it was a Who’s Who of former Clemson men’s basketball and football legends playing in the golf tournament. Joining Buckingham and Campbell from the basketball program were former Tigers Dale Davis, Grayson Marshall, David Angel, Tony Christie, Bobby Conrad, Terrell McIntyre, Will Solomon, Jordan Roper and Terrence Oglesby.

Wright’s head coach at Clemson, Cliff Ellis, also played in the tournament.

“I’m glad that everybody is here,” Ellis said. “It is the way the Clemson Family works when a player has fallen. You pick him up and that is what we do. That is what we stressed as a team here at Clemson, and that is what we are doing for Sharone here today.”

Former Clemson head coach Danny Ford, who played a big role in recruiting so many people to give and play in the event, led the charge for the football program.

“They are Clemson, number one, and these young men have done an outstanding job of trying to help one of their own that had played at Clemson and was successful and chose this place to go to school,” Ford said. “All of his teammates are trying to help him through some tough times. So, they asked me would I come, and they said this is one of the first times football and basketball has had a combination type golf deal.

“We have had a few, but not many and its good to get some football players here and we will have a bunch of basketball players here. All for a good cause.”

Ford was joined by some of his former players Levon Kirkland, Homer Jordan, Donnell Woolford and James Coley. Patrick Sapp, who played for the football and basketball teams also played.

More recent football players from the Dabo Swinney era included C.J. Spiller, Tajh Boyd and Dalton Freeman. Former Clemson administrators Dwight Rainey and Vann Hilderbrand also played on Monday.

The women’s basketball program was represented by former head coach Jim Davis, Louise Greenwood and Karen Ann Jenkins.

Wright was one of the more dominant big men in the ACC during his time at Clemson. He still ranks third in Clemson history in blocked shots and double-doubles despite playing just three seasons before turning professional.

A two-time All-ACC selection in 1993 and 1994, Wright averaged 14.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. He also had 286 career blocks.

“Sharone has gone through a lot,” Ellis said. “I stay in touch with him. He has gone through a lot. He has battled cancer. He just had a leg amputated. He has been like a son. We have been in touch all these years. He has gone through all these battles and he has done a lot of great things, but right now he is definitely going through a hard time.

“He was a tough player. He was a hardnose player. He was always fighting, and he will do the same thing with this battle. He will continue to fight and win this battle. Right now, it is getting the prosthetic where he is used to it and able to walk.”

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