Basketball legend and member of Long Island University’s Blackbird Nation, Riley L. Clarida, Jr., of Silver Lake Staten Island, passed away peacefully at home May 2, 2018 surrounded by his family after a six-year battle with cancer.
Mr. Clarida was a retired professional ball player having had an impressive career playing alongside many basketball greats and was a recognized Rucker Pro Legend. Mr. Clarida started playing basketball during junior high school and continued as a ball player at Erasmus High School under coach John Bunyan. After graduation from high school, Mr. Clarida received a full scholarship to play ball at George Mason University. After one year at George Mason, he was given an opportunity to return to Brooklyn on a full scholarship to play ball for Long Island University. As captain of his team, Riley lead his team to win their first trip in the history of the school to the NCAA tournament in 1980-81 finishing as LIU’s fifth all-time leading scorer and seventh all time rebounder. His 12.3 rebounds in 1981-82 ranked fifth nationally, shooting 63 percent from the field to place eighth in the nation. Riley was named AP Honorable Mention All-American for two straight years. Upon completion of his studies at Long Island University, Riley was a ninth-round draft pick for Utah Jazz. He continued his basketball career with the Albany Patrons, coached by the late Dean Meminger, Sr. Overseas he had the privilege of traveling around the world playing the game as a star player, and is still remembered as a star player for the Baskonitas in Spain. Known as “The Great One” Riley always stood out as a force to be reckoned with playing the position of power forward having dunked on many of his opponents when they least expected. Upon retiring from basketball Riley worked with NYC Department of Education at Thomas Jefferson and Wingate High School Campuses and continued to work two full time jobs until his health began to fail.
As an avid reader, Riley loved to read and was known for his exceptional wisdom and extensive vocabulary. He introduced the Staten Island Black Heritage to the first ever Families Against Violence basketball fundraiser and was responsible for bringing Rucker Pro Legends like Cal Ramsey, Freddy Crawford, Pee Wee Kirkland, Sam Worthen, and Bobby Hunter to name a few to make appearances on Staten Island. He coached young men from his church at Reach Out and Touch Ministries Int’l where he was a member and he continued to be the inspiration behind community basketball initiatives including the 2017 NEON Sports basketball clinic where he encouraged youth to get all the education they could.
He leaves to mourn his best friend and wife of 14 years, Dr. Kathlyn BarrettLayne Clarida, one son Jamal Seaberry, one daughter Marquita Lews, two step daughters Stephanie Marcella Layne, and Lynee Layne Urban, his mother Cleo Williams, his brother Bernard Clarida, his sister Mabel Williams, two grandsons, three grand-daughters, his niece Tianna Clarida, two sisters-in-law, six brothers-in-law, and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, very close friends, and colleagues.
A memorial service will be held in Riley’s honor on May 15, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. following a private viewing at Christian Pentecostal Church 900 Richmond Road Staten Island, New York 10304. The repast will follow from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Central Family Life Center 59 Wright Street Staten Island, NY 10304. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Stradford Funeral Home Staten Island.