KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Coach Calvin Wainright will be remembered by some for his skill as a basketball player, but his special gift was as a mentor to generations of young Black men.
"Calvin took the time to mold me into the man I am today,'' his close friend, Pat Clarke, said Monday.
Wainright, 68, died Monday morning after a lifetime of working with kids, helping show them how to escape the violence and poverty that often surrounded them.
Clarke, the president of the Oak Park neighborhood, said he met Wainright in 1972 when Clarke was just 6 years old.
"He was my big brother, the legend," Clarke said. "(He's) one of the reasons there is a Pat Clarke."
Wainright, who Clarke said was about 6 feet 4 inches tall and built like a linebacker, spent most of his life coaching inner-city basketball players.
"I got it from him," Clarke said.
Like his mentor, Clarke works tirelessly to keep kids safe in neighborhoods where crime often wins the battle for the hearts of children and teens.
Wainright "loved God and loved his family," Clarke said.
In 2020, Wainright was awarded the Outstanding Volunteer Coach by the Missouri Park and Recreation Association.
The same year, he was awarded the Kansas City People's Choice Awards Humanitarian Award.
"Today, Kansas City mourns the loss of a great icon, a staple in our city, a father figure & coach to many," the KCPCA said in a Facebook post. "Rest In Peace Coach Calvin Wainright you will be truly missed. Prayers & condolences to the family."
Wainright is the father of Ish Wainright, a forward for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. His other son, Amaad Wainright, played one season at Kansas State University.