Kihei Clark grew up in Southern California, but his parents are from Hawaii, originally. His mother, Sharon, is Filipino, but moved to Hawaii decades ago, per Clark. His father, Malik Clark, attended the University of Hawaii a Hilo.
Malik Clark was a basketball player himself, and played basketball at Hawaii-Hilo. Of his son’s success at UVA, Malik said to The Orange County Register, “I hope he becomes as good as London [Perrantes]. London might have been a better shooter at the same age. I think Kihei can put it on the floor better, maybe has a little more wiggle.”
Here’s what you need to know about Clark’s background:
Clark Grew Up in Southern California; His Parents Met in Hawaii
According to The Orange County Register, Malik Clark played basketball at Birmington High School, followed by a collegiate basketball career at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Malik now runs a construction and trucking company in the Woodland Hills area in California. Per the publication, Clark played basketball at Taft High School.
Sharon Clark’s family are originally Filipino, according to PhilStar. Kihei said to the publication, “My mom’s family is from Ilocos but they moved to Hawaii a long time ago.”
It’s not clear if Malik was also born and raised in Hawaii, or if he travelled to the islands for college.
The story of Kihei’s name is a romantic one. To PhilStar, he shared it, explaining that his parents named him after the town in West Hawaii where his parents met. “Yeah,” he said, “My name has a nice story to it and so does my game. My father, Malik Clark, played for Division 2 school, Hawaii-Hilo, so that is where I got my basketball inspiration…But I was excited about coming over [to Virginia].”
Clark Is 5’9 & 155 Pounds; UVA Coach Tony Bennett Said That Didn’t Matter to Him
Clark originally planned to play basketball at UC Davis, but he ended up at Virginia because he had a “good basketball nose,” according to UVA Coach Tony Bennett.
To The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bennett said of Clark,
“What I love about London [Perrantes] and Kihei, they weren’t really highly touted…But they were good. They have a good basketball nose. And yeah, he’s 5-9, and so many people get caught up in dimensions, and there’s value and importance in that, but toughness, quickness, feel, savvy, those things are there. And I played with Muggsy Bogues. I was Muggsy Bogues’ backup in the NBA [with the Charlotte Hornets]. When you see someone who has ‘it’, and has that kind of heart and determination, that sold me. It’s not like I’m a giant myself. I say I’m 6-feet. My wife and I argue. She says I’m 5-11 1/2. But if you can play, you can play.”
Clark told the publication he’s learned a lot about how to play from his father, who also was on the shorter side. He said, “I’ve learned almost everything from him. He’s taught me a lot, especially defensively. He wasn’t very big as well, and he had me working on defense from a young age. He taught me to slide and keep guys in front and pressure the ball 94 feet.”
Clark’s assist in the final seconds of the Elite Eight Purdue game has all but cemented his legendary status in UVA basketball history. In fact, his ability to figure out how to get the ball to Madami Diakite with a few seconds to go surprised even Bennett, himself. To reporters following the game, per The Washington Post, Bennett said, “I really thought the only thing he could do in that moment was take two dribbles and heave the ball.” Bennett added, To understand that he had the time and then to make the pass that he made…Wow.”