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SALT LAKE CITY — Jordan Clarkson's smile was infectious as he thought about returning home to San Antonio for Utah's preseason opener on Monday.
Preseason or not, home is still home. He'll get to see his parents sitting courtside, get to hit up his old favorite chicken spot Wayne's Wings, and hopefully, if time allows, get to take his daughter out for some ice cream.
"It's always good to go back home," Clarkson said. "See my family, see my friends. That arena almost feels like another home for me as well because my parents will be there close to the bench, all my friends I can see in the stands and family members, so I never get tired of going back."
But this homecoming will be filled with some added emotion for the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.
Utah's first preseason contest will be played on the fifth anniversary of the death of one of Clarkson's closest childhood friends, Cameron Moore.
Moore died at the age of 25 after collapsing during a practice with his pro team AV Ohrid in Macedonia in 2016. Moore had been diagnosed with an enlarged heart when he was playing in the G League in 2014-15.
"He's someone I grew up with, someone that mentored me, someone that I looked up to," said Clarkson, who grew emotional when speaking about his late friend.
Clarkson and Moore grew up together in the San Antonio area and stayed close into their adult years. The summer before Moore unexpectedly passed, he even lived with Clarkson, who was then with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"Going back, kind of means a little bit more, even though it's a preseason game," Clarkson said. "Just being there and being able to support his brother and his family as well. It's a big one."