HUMANS OF THE U: CLARKE HEADLEE

“I was a high-energy kid, active in football, wrestling, track and basketball. By my freshman year I was tall enough to dunk, but my coach was old school and didn’t tolerate it.

I was born in Utah, adopted as an infant and raised in Novi, Michigan, outside of Detroit. Not knowing much about my biological family, I did what curious people do — I went online, found a random post by my biological dad’s parents who were looking for me and we got linked up.

When we met, I found out my biological father, Herb Jones, played basketball for the University of Montana alongside then-teammate and now – University of Utah head basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak. My father died in a car accident while attending college, heading back to school after visiting Utah.

I was curious, so I sent an email to Krystkowiak, who was coaching the New Jersey Nets. He emailed right back and filled me in about my father. He said, “Herb Jones was an amazing athlete. I once saw a sign at a Grizzlies game that said, ‘Larry is our bread and butter, but Herb is our jam.’ Great dude and still missed.”

A year after high school, I joined the Army as a combat medic and was assigned to the Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. It’s a big and busy place; it’s the largest military hospital in the Pacific Basin and serves a military jurisdiction encompassing 52 percent of the earth’s surface.

I joined the TAMC basketball team, and this time, I could dunk. Our team was sick. We were the best team on the island, and there’s a lot of military on the island — Army, Navy, Marines. We won the Army tournament every year and got all the bragging rights that come with that win. Unit commanders take a lot of pride in three things: The discipline of their units, their basketball team and — kind of — their softball team.”

— Clarke Headlee, UIT account executive/facilities coordinator

We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at ThisWeek@utah.edu.