Some life events are so tumultuous, so heart-wrenching, so scarring that rarely can the reverberating effects of them be concealed – even years later.
Clayton Crellin, long before he was widely considered as the best basketball player to ever come out of Squamish, encountered such scenarios, multiple times in fact.
As a child, Crellin vividly remembers trying to defend his mother and himself as they were mercilessly beaten.
As a 10-year-old, perhaps the only thing more despairing than the brutality Crellin endured was the ominously hopeless street name he resided on – No Name Road.
With a town that felt “like a couple hundred people,” sports and basketball were the furthest things from Crellin’s mind growing up.
He ran away from home in search of a better life. But with only his “sleepover backpack” with him, he didn’t know where he was going.
“I ran to this one girl named Heather McMillan and begged her to take me in.”
Crellin wouldn’t end up going back home after that fateful day. Instead, his life situation would worsen. After a lengthy government ruling that deemed McMillan ineligible to adopt Crellin, the youngster was forced into the group housing system in Metro Vancouver.
“At one point during that time I was in 16 different (group) homes in a three-month span,” he said. “I wish I could tell you what really happened during those times but I get the order of it really messed up.”
“B and Es, drugs and stealing cars was the norm, though and those were the people they throw you in with.
“So I got in way more trouble in my first five years in Vancouver than ever before.”
Nowadays if you were to come across Crellin, 26, you would hardly suspect the troubled tales of his childhood.
He’s charming, energetic, upbeat – and most noticeably, talented.
At six-foot-four and possessing a seven-foot wing span and a 37-inch vertical leap, Crellin is one of the more highly recognized players from Metro Vancouver at the moment.
At Kitslano Secondary, he was the B.C. provincial tournament points leader in 2007. This, after he only picked up the sport at 14 through Vancouver’s Night Hoops league.
He’s a former Canadian college All-Star and MVP, invitee to the Drew League (the most prestigious summer league in America) and recently won B.C.’s NBA All-Star weekend dunk contest for the chance to square off against the best in the country on Feb. 13 in Toronto.
After a gruesome leg injury nearly two years ago, Crellin is finally starting to feel like the player he once was and is hoping for a professional contract in the near future.
Crellin says his journey from No Name Road has prepared – and not hindered – his aspirations for it.
“At a really young age I was told I was never going to amount to anything,” he said. “I just never would believe it – almost like an angry disbelief to prove them wrong.
“If my heart is in it, then I’ll see it to the end and see how far basketball can take me.”