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Meet the mother behind Oklahoma State guard Stevie Clark and Douglass football standout Deondre Clark

The mother of the best basketball player and the best football player to come out of Oklahoma City the last two years has had a profile as high as her sons. But there's more to Dorshell Clark than meets the eye
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 1, 2014
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photo - Dorshell Clark talks with friends during her son's, Deondre Clark's, basketball game at Douglass High School in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, January 28, 2014. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Dorshell Clark talks with friends during her son's, Deondre Clark's, basketball game at Douglass High School in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, January 28, 2014. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

It was a compromise.

After they visited the school, Dorshell decided to let Stevie go to Vegas, but she sent her oldest son, Dominique, to look out for him.

A few weeks after the boys moved, Dorshell went for a visit. She told the basketball coach that she needed a schedule so she could know when Stevie would be playing. He told her that he didn't have the schedule confirmed but that they would be playing a bunch of big-name schools, some of which he listed.

Dorshell reached out to the coaches of a couple of those would-be opponents. She'd met them during Stevie's time on the summer basketball circuit, and to a man, they said they'd never heard from Quest.

Dorshell called the Quest coach and told him what the other coaches had said, but still, he insisted they were scheduling those teams.

Again, Dorshell planned a trip to Vegas, this time when Stevie was supposed to have a game against Findlay Prep, the Henderson, Nev., school that counts NBA players Avery Bradley and Tristan Thompson among its alums. But as the trip approached, Dorshell was hearing Findlay had no intention of playing Quest.

She called Stevie.

“If you don't play, you're coming home,” she said. “We're not gonna argue about it because if something happens, the NCAA's gonna come down and you're gonna blow every chance you have.”

She went to Vegas.

There was no game.

Stevie and Dominique came home with Dorshell.

* * *

Dorshell doesn't worry about her boys.

She worries about the world.

When Stevie was in middle school, people started to notice his basketball talent. Coaches for traveling teams were contacting Douglass trying to get Stevie to join them.

One of them was Gary Vick, who has coached the likes of Blake Griffin and Xavier Henry in the successful Athletes First program. The coach promised to take good care of Stevie.

But while Stevie was on one of his first out-of-town trips, he called his mom needing money to help feed the rest of the team. He said the coaches checked the players into their hotel and left them there alone.

It was almost midnight, but Dorshell took out for Dallas.

“I'm going to stay with you,” she told Stevie when she arrived.

“Mom,” he told her, “I'm supposed to be a big boy.”

“You are a big boy, but you're not going to be a big boy in a hotel by yourself and you're 13.”

Vick wasn't on that trip — he'd sent his assistants to coach the team — but Dorshell said it took several conversations to convince her to keep Stevie in the program.

She couldn't imagine anything bad happening to him.

That's why she felt she had to call the Sports Animal one Tuesday afternoon last November. The day before, Stevie, in his freshman season at OSU, had been suspended for unspecified reasons by Cowboy coach Travis Ford and sent home from a tournament in Florida.

“That guy was on the radio, and he was just jabbin' Stevie,” Dorshell said, referring to host Jim Traber but never using his name. “The guy was like, ‘We know what he did.'”

She wanted him to say what Stevie did.

He insisted he couldn't say on the air.

She told him to call her at work and tell her privately.

“Then, he kind of changed his attitude and started saying, ‘Well, I think you've done a great job with your kids,'” Dorshell said. “His whole attitude changed.”

She doesn't seem to hold any ill will, and she still listens to the Sports Animal, but she felt she had to take up for her child.

“They make mistakes — I make mistakes, and I'm grown — but I still don't love 'em any less,” she said. “I still support 'em to the fullest.”

* * *

Dorshell walked into the gym at Douglass High on Tuesday night and started hugging people. Anyone in the stands who was sitting within arms' length of the court, it seemed, got a hug.

“She knows everybody in this school,” her longtime friend Jennifer Spurlock said with a smile.

When the women finally reached the other end of the court, Dorshell had more hugs. For her two oldest boys, Dominique and D'angelo, who were basketball standouts at Douglass before playing small-college hoops. For LSU defensive line coach Brick Haley, who was in town to watch Deondre play basketball a day after his mom said she would let him make his own decision but would encourage him to go to OU.

Dorshell settled on the end of the bleachers next to Spurlock and in front of Haley. She was still wearing her black scrubs with the Mercy logo embroidered on them. She hadn't been home.

Now remarried, the 44-year-old lives in the house where Granny raised her, but on Tuesdays, she doesn't see much of it.

Stevie asked his mom about two months ago to do weekly Bible study with him. So every Tuesday, Dorshell leaves work and drives straight to Stillwater. She reads scripture with him. She prays with him.

Half a dozen other athletes regularly join them.

“If God has brought you this far, you can't just drop him off like luggage and put him to the side,” Dorshell said. “You just leave room for the devil to get in and get busy.”

She shook her head ever so slightly.

“I honestly believe that is what has happened with Stevie.”

A little over a month ago, Stevie was arrested for marijuana possession.

“You know what?” Dorshell said. “If it's going to help my baby, I would've driven to Kansas and back.”

Still, going to see Stevie makes for busy Tuesdays. Deondre usually has a basketball game like he did earlier this week against Southeast, and try as she might, Dorshell didn't make it to the gym until halftime.

But a few minutes into the third quarter when Deondre stood up off the bench to check in, it was like Dorshell had a sixth sense. She immediately started clapping.

“Let's go, Big Daddy!” she hollered.

Once he was on the court, she kept yelling.

“Call the foul!”

“Play some defense!”

Then Deondre caught a pass, drove to the basket and made contact with a defender. It was a push off or a block.

Block.

The Southeast fans went nuts.

Dorshell just sat and clapped.

Dorshell Clark knows that you think you've got her all figured out. She's heard that some people think she's too involved in the lives of her sons.

“Well,” she said, “if I wasn't as involved as I am, people would take advantage of them.”

She knows she has to let the boys grow and go, but that doesn't mean she doesn't worry about them. She knows, after all, what a mean world this can be. She saw it as a child. She saw it as young mother.

Now all of this.

“The last two years have been a whirlwind,” she said. “A bad one. A really bad whirlwind. But we've overcome.

“Whatever mistakes I've made, whatever bad advice I gave, I have to say I'm sorry, but we pick up and keep ... pushing.”

Jenni Carlson can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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