Former Western Kentucky basketball player Cliff Dixon was fatally shot outside an Atlanta-area nightclub early Thursday morning, according to a release from the Chamblee (Georgia) Police Department. It is being investigated as a homicide, police said.
Dixon, 32, grew up in Suitland, Maryland, where he was a childhood friend of Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant. Dixon played in 55 games for Western Kentucky in 2009-10 and 2010-11 before being dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules. He went on to play overseas.
Dixon was a frequent visitor at Oklahoma City games when Durant played for the Thunder.
Durant cited Dixon in his 2014 MVP speech, calling him out by name and saying Dixon and Durant's other childhood friends kept him sane.
"You mean the world to me," Durant said on May 13, 2014. "I wouldn't be here without all you guys. This our trophy, too."
Durant's mother, Wanda, posted a note about Dixon's death on Twitter on Thursday.
The Durant family extends our deepest condolences & prayers to Cliff's mother, siblings, family & friends. Our family was an extension of his & we shared wonderful memories. His transition is an incredible loss for all of us who loved him, he will be missed dearly #CliffDixon RIP pic.twitter.com/QuIRt0hIIu— Wanda Durant (@MamaDurant) March 21, 2019
Durant started for the Warriors and scored 15 points in Thursday night's 112-89 win over the Indiana Pacers. Head coach Steve Kerr said he hoped being on the court would help Durant deal with the tragedy.
"I think for most of us who play this game or coach this game, this is kind of our refuge," Kerr said before the game. "Being able to play, being able to immerse yourself in a game. Kind of the best way to deal with something that's tragic, something difficult. I know he will be playing with a heavy heart tonight, and I hope he can lose himself in the game and find some joy in the game itself."