January 10, 2013

By Danny J. Bakewell, Jr. LAWT Contributing Writer


Victor James McClinton (49) was a man who dedicated his entire life to helping kids in his community; a man who impacted the lives of more than 20,000 children in the Pasadena area over the past 20 years; a man who gave countless hours volunteering his time, resources and effort to making life for young people better no matter what their circumstances were; a man who was a devoted husband for over 25 years; and a man who’s greatest joy in life was spending time with his two sons, Kristian and Kameron, as he watched them blossom into the men they have become. McClinton shared a love and dedication to family and shared an extremely close relationship with his sister, Velma McClinton, who he considered one of his best friends and closest confidants. 

McClinton was killed on Christ­mas morning by a stray bullet from a drive by shooting, which occurred about 300 feet from his home.  Over 1000 people packed Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Pasadena on Saturday, January 5 to pay tribute to this great man.  The hundreds of people who attended the service came out, not only to grieve the death of McClinton, but to celebrate the life of the man who had touched so many.  Those in attendance shared stories of how he had impacted their lives and the lives of their children and how he gave selflessly and how he was a shining example of how people should live a life of service to others.  Sheriff Lee Baca, spoke at the service and gave him great accolades for his longstanding work in the Sheriff’s Department as an exemplary employee and, most important, for his lifetime of community service to the thousands of children he coached throughout the years.  Walt Butler, a local Pasadena businessman who had been friends with McClinton for many years said “He was more than just a friend; he was like a son to me.  He was the most honorable man that I had ever met and I will miss him always.” 

McClinton who was born in Las Vegas, NV and raised by his maternal grandmother grew up in Pasadena and later moved to Watts.  He attended the prestigious all boys Catholic School Verbum Dei where he played soccer and ran track. After graduation he moved to Pasadena and attended Pasadena Community College.  While in Pasadena, he began working and coaching at the Foothill Family YMCA.  McClinton quickly rose up the ranks at the YMCA to become the sports director of the YMCA’s youth sports program.  At the same time, he went to work for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as a service technician where he remained until his untimely death on Christmas morning.  When the YMCA decided to terminate their youth sports program, McClinton leaped at the opportunity to launch his own youth sports program.  With a grant he secured from the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade, McClinton launched the Brotherhood Crusade Youth Sports League which he operated for the past 18 years.  The Brotherhood Crusade Sports League became an institution in the Pasadena Community as well as surrounding areas.  What made the Brotherhood Crusade Sports League so unique was its ability to attract children from every walk of life and was representative of the socio economic diversity, which surround the Pasadena area.  “Victor was able to build a league which mixed a diverse group of kids and allowed them all to meet and play on equal footing.  My kids probably would have never had such a diverse array of friends if it were not for him and the Brotherhood” stated Frank Gangi a local real estate developer whose sons currently attend St. Francis High School in La Cañada.

Shelly McClinton, Victor’s wife of over 25 years wanted her husband to be remembered not as a victim of a senseless drive by shooting, nor did she want him to be considered a poster child for the fight against gang violence or even remembered as someone struck down in the prime of his life far too soon.  What she asked that he be remembered for is being a man who no matter what the circumstances or situation, always saw the best in people. Shelly wanted him remembered as a man who was dedicated to serving others and who knew his purpose in life was to mentor the lives of thousands of young people one at a time. 

Unfortunately, stories about senseless deaths of people within our community are reported way too often.  But when you have to write one of these stories about the tragic, senseless and untimely death of your best friend the story becomes that much more difficult.  I attended high school with McClinton;  we worked at the Pasadena YMCA together (along with Jacques – our other best friend who shared over 30 years of friendship and memories with Vic and me); I was there when his mom passed away; I introduced him to his wife (Shelly);  I am the godfather to his sons Kristian and Kameron and unfortunately, I was there at the hospital at the moment of his untimely death.  All I can say is that the world was a better place because he was in it.  He was a friend like no one else; it didn’t matter if you had spoken to him every day (like we often did) or if you had not talked to him in months (like we often did as well).  He was always the same loving, caring person.  Loyalty meant everything to Victor; I guess that is why he was such a wonderful husband, a wonderful father and a great friend.  All I can say is that I am a better person because of our friendship, that my family has been enriched because he was a part of it and while I am deeply saddened over his crazy and senseless death, I am still and will forever remain grateful for the times and memories we shared.

McClinton’s life is celebrated and his memory cherished by wife, Shelly, his sons, Kristian and Kameron, his sisters, Velma, Patricia, Selina, and Senola, and by his brother, Vincent, as well as by a host of relatives and friends.  His enthusiastic belief in the possibility that all young people may realize their dreams with hard work and by “doing right” lives on through the hundreds of young people and children who have benefited from his mentoring and coaching. 

A Friend Forever!!!

Many caring and concerned families have asked how they may help the McClinton Family, a fund has been established to assist them in their time of mourning.  Please send all contributions to:

The Victor McClinton Family Fund, c/o JP Morgan Chase, Attn: Cheryl McMurray, Branch Manager, 1305 Fair Oaks Avenue, South Pasadena, CA 91030

Category: Community