Clippers' Patrick Beverley: Death of close friend 'hits home'

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story included the last name of Patrick Beverley's friend who was killed. At the request of the family, ESPN has removed the last name of the man, who is not a public figure.

Patrick Beverley was sitting in the back of the LA Clippers' bus on the way to practice Tuesday when he couldn't hold the pain and grief in any longer.

Tears began streaming down Beverley's face. It has been just over three weeks since Beverley lost one of his best friends, Davaris, who was shot and killed in Chicago on July 20.

For the first time since briefly leaving the Clippers and the NBA campus on July 21, Beverley spoke to ESPN about the death of his close friend and how the loss has made him want to try to do more for at-risk youth in his home city of Chicago. Police said the man was shot in the abdomen and arm, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Beverley hasn't stopped grieving since.

"I cried on my way to practice on the back of the bus, man," Beverley told ESPN. "It makes me just want to hurry up and win my championship -- understanding that I have to go through every process and phase [to get] that while being fortunate to be out here with my teammates -- and then get back home to my homies, get back to my friends.

"I am tired of losing people. You know? It hits home for me. I have to deal with the reality when I get back, [but until then] comforting my friends, being a leader right here, being a leader of my crew back home in Chicago."

Beverley said the man lived with him while the two were at John Marshall High School. The point guard said his mother and grandmother helped raise his friend.

"He just turned 31 in July," Beverley said of his friend, who leaves behind three children. "Couple of days after his birthday, he passed.

"[He died in the] same neighborhood, same area, same park we hang out at."

Beverley, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell all left the Clippers and the NBA bubble in July to deal with the death of a loved one. Williams lost a mentor when the father of a close friend died. Harrell has been grieving the death of his grandmother.

"We're having real-life issues in the world," Williams said.

Beverley, who will miss his fourth straight game Wednesday with a strained left calf when the Clippers play the Denver Nuggets, is focused on helping LA win a championship in Orlando. But he also continues to keep a close eye on his hometown.

Last weekend, four people were killed and at least 36 others were wounded in shootings across Chicago, according to the Sun-Times. Early Monday, hundreds of people descended on downtown Chicago, with vandals smashing windows and looting several businesses along Michigan Avenue. According to reports, a police shooting that occurred on the South Side of the city may have sparked the downtown disturbance.

"I just want to shine a light on the city of Chicago," Beverley said. "It ain't safe right now. It's a tough time. But there are still kids in there that want to go to the NBA and still kids in there that have dreams to be the next Patrick Beverley. And I just want to make sure that I am staying focused and doing what it takes to inspire.

"Because I am starting to lose people that's real close to me, and it is starting to hit home. This [restart in the] bubble, my game, the way I carry myself is important, not only to me, but to all the inner-city kids around there. ... I am trying to make a difference, yo. Just trying to find a way to get everyone out [of danger], you know?"

Raised in one of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods on the West Side, Beverley said he has lost several loved ones to gun violence. Adlai "Dexter" Hood, a father figure to Beverley, was shot eight times and killed in his car when Beverley was a teenager, according to Beverley's mother, Lisa Beverley.

During the summer of 2008, when he returned to Chicago after he was suspended from Arkansas, Beverley lost his cousin, Donovan Morris. Morris, 16, was fatally shot multiple times.

Beverley considered Morris a younger brother and told ESPN in November that Morris' death was a major reason he stopped selling marijuana on the streets of Chicago in 2008, accepting an offer to play basketball professionally in Ukraine.

"I have been dealing with this so much that I have been able to kind of do what I do as a younger kid, able to take that pain, grab a basketball and just take it out on basketball," Beverley said of how he is currently coping. "Stay in a gym, shoot more, lift more, read more, mind, body and soul. Get stronger. Kind of use your pain that way.

"This has been my way of venting. Everybody has a different way. But whether I was a little kid grabbing a ball and running to the park or as an adult now and being the last one in the gym and first one on, just try to keep my mind at ease and off the reality at hand."

The NBA bubble has taken on a new meaning for Beverley. It is built to protect NBA players and teams from the coronavirus, but Beverley said he is trying to use it to shield himself from the reality of losing his friend.

"It's a very unfortunate situation, losing a friend to gun violence," Beverley said. "But I am fortunate to be in the bubble, and I mean that wholeheartedly. I am able to focus on my craft, not able to deal with kind of the reality, not just yet.

"I am in a bubble, able to focus on basketball, so this bubble has been a great experience for me. And I have been able to kind of take my mind off my reality and put all that passion and pain into the game of basketball."
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