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Lilly’s Dawg Blog

May 24th, 2018

In 1991 the University of Georgia signed a 7’ 0” center named Charles Claxton from Miami Carol City High school, and that same year a 6’4” no-name kid from Jonesboro also became a walk-on player at UGA.  Big Clax redshirted that year which meant he had to play with me on the third team at every practice. Coach Durham wanted to call the third team the Celtics since he almost became their head coach years earlier. However, Clax did not like the name and complained to coach about it. “ Well, what do you want to be called big boy” coach said in his raspy voice. “The Heat!” Claxton wanted to be named after the new NBA team in Miami, and the name stuck for that year. So, every practice Big Clax and I had to play defense for about three hours every day, and we sat on the end of the bench for every game. Lucky for me Clax is a patient man and every better for me he liked me, and we became friends. I am proud to say that 27 years later we are still good friends! I can genuinely say Clax is one of the best friends I have ever had in my life.


1992. San Antonio where we played Texas.

 


2017. Big Clax and my lovely Mom at the UGA basketball game.

Today Clax is married to the beautiful and lovely Nicole Claxton, and they have three of the best looking kids you will ever see. Nicolas, Chase, and Carmyn are great kids that I have enjoyed watching grow up over the years. Every year UGA has a returning Letterman’s game where all the old players bring their families to the game. My wife and I were always thrilled to see our kids get to play on the same basketball court as the Claxton kids.


Nicolas Claxton and Gunner Lilly on the UGA practice court.

It is said history repeats itself and that is true for the Claxton family because oldest son Nicolas became a highly recruited basketball player at Charter Legacy High school in Greenville South Carolina. I would worry night and day that he would not choose Georgia just like his old man did, and I would bug Big Clax to death asking him what Nic was going to do. I would insist that he make Nic go to UGA because I would for sure do that with my kids. However, Big Clax is a good man and an even better dad than me. He would only tell me he wanted Nic to make his choice himself and go to whatever school he wanted for basketball and education.  Finally, I got a call inviting me up to Greenville for Nicolas college announcement. So, I drove up that day stressed that Nic would go to Florida State or South Carolina. I made up my mind to be a fan of whatever school Nic choose unless it was Georgia Tech. I had a lot of time to think about this because I got lost once I got into Greenville. I could not find the high school, and I was about to be late to the party. I called Clax, and he said he would hold off as long as he could until I got there. I was at a red light punching the ceiling of the car because I was so upset, and I noticed a sweet lady looking at me in the car beside me. I rolled down the window and told what I was doing. She said for me to follow her to the school. All I ever got to do for her was wave and yell thank you as I jumped out of the car and ran to the gym.

I was running through the campus in my three-piece suit with my bow tie telling onlookers that Big Clax was going to kill me because I was late! I felt better once I saw the gym door and could see inside where over 100 people were there for Nicolas. I admit I did stumble through the door because  I tipped on the floor mate. So, I came tumbling in, gained my balance, and hearing Claxton announce. “and there is my friend Mr. Lilly arriving late.” There were a few stories told about Nic, and then I was time for him to make his college choice. Nicolas took the microphone and very eloquently stated that he was going to be a Georgia Bulldog! The crowd roared, and I was happy that another Claxton would be wearing the Georgia basketball uniform.


What a good looking family!
Charles Jr, Chace, Nicolas,Carmyn, Nicole, and Big Clax


I could not have been more proud of Nicolas and to be invited to the ceremony.

Thanks to high school coach Bj Jackson and his excellent coaching staff at Charter Legacy Nicolas was well prepared to play college basketball. Nic is now wearing the number 33 which is the same number his dad had at Georgia. That is one of the only things they share in common on the hardwood. Nicolas can play the 2 or 3 position on the floor and can go inside as a 4 and help the team. Unlike Big Clax who was a classic center and was always was inside the paint as a 5, Nicolas can run the floor an shoot threes from the guard spot. Also, Nicolas became known for his thunderous dunks on fast breaks and his relentless rebounding on both sides of the floor. What I liked most about him during his first season was his enthusiasm on and off the court. When he was in the game, he brought energy to the team. When he was out of the game, he was always supporting his teammates. I feel very confident the best is yet to come from young Claxton, and I will for sure be there to see him play next year.


Big Clax at the center position.


Nicolas bringing the crowd to their feet.


Nicolas and his infectious smile.

To say I am proud to be a part of the Claxton connection for UGA basketball is an understatement for sure. The basketball talent the family has is of course impressive. However, what I love being a part of the most is the Claxton family.  Nicole is always happy to see me and greets me with a hug. Younger brother Chase is a brilliant young man who I enjoy talking with every time I see him. Also, remember his name because he will be playing college basketball in two years. Young daughter Carmen does not know what to make of me just yet, but she too always smiles when she sees me. So, I am thankful I met Big Calx because his friendship and his family has blessed me and they mean the world to me.

 

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