EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – If you talk to anyone who knew him about Cliff Tucker, it’s clear he was an El Paso gem.
“He was just so kind and thoughtful of others,” said Chapin head coach Rodney Lewis
Two years ago, on May 28, 2018, the former Chapin High School and University of Maryland basketball star, his girlfriend, Genesis Soto, along with Andrew and Amanda Akaji were tragically killed in a car wreck on I-10.
730 days later, his legacy lives on.
“If his life has changed one person, that means a lot to me. That means a lot to this family,” said Tucker’s mother, Regina.
Even from the worst of nightmares, can come the best of blessings. For the Tuckers, that has been Cliff and Genesis’s 5-year-old daughter Drianna, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in the crash. She was hospitalized for months, but two years later, Dri is about to start kindergarten.
“She’s come a long way. She’s ahead of schedule. The doctors are very surprised by Dri’s reaction,” said Regina.
Dri still undergoes daily rounds of physical and speech therapy, but it’s important she’s getting to be a normal 5-year-old.
“I have so many friends (at school),” said Drianna. They’re my favorite.”
Drianna is a living example of the life Tucker and Soto lived.
“They left something very precious behind. For her to survive what she went through, and be as strong as she is, nothing else matters,” said Lewis.
Tucker’s son Dallas, is being raised by his mother; Soto’s other daughter, Destiny, is also being raised by their grandparents.
Since his passing, June 5 has been named Cliff Tucker Day in the Sun City, and each year the Cliff Tucker Jr. Foundation awards three students at Chapin and Andress with $1000 scholarships. To donate to the fund, click here.
Typically, there’s also a Memorial Day weekend basketball tournament in his honor to raise money for the foundation, but it was canceled this year because of COVID-19. His mother says it’s all a reflection of Cliff.
“He never was a person who received, he always gave away stuff. He was cherishing enjoying life,” said Regina.
His beloved Chapin high school continues to honor him, with jersey patches; they retired his number 21 jersey and hung a banner in the gym; and new this year, they’ve dedicated the court to Tucker.
“The first thing I want them to see when they enter our gym is that,” said Lewis.
Through unimaginable pain, the Tuckers move forward; the littlest among them providing the most inspiration.
“(Drianna) associates her mom and dad with birds,” said Regina Tucker. “She knows they’re in heaven. She’s really smart and has some of his visions. She’s already carrying it on.”