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Hundreds gather in Pasadena to honor slain youth coach

December 28, 2012 |  6:37 am

About 400 people gathered Thursday evening at the steps of Pasadena City Hall to mourn a youth sports coach killed by stray gunfire on Christmas morning in Pasadena.

Victor McClinton, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department technician, was killed Tuesday outside his home in the 1900 block of Newport Avenue, near Wyoming Street. A second man who may have been the target of the drive-by shooting was wounded by gunfire, according to police.

McClinton, 49, founded the Brotherhood Community Youth Sports League nearly two decades ago and served as its volunteer director, the Pasadena Sun reported.

Many of those in attendance were current or former league participants and their parents.

As a coach and mentor, McClinton had a positive impact on thousands of lives, said businessman Danny Bakewell Sr., chairman of the Brotherhood Crusade. McClinton ran the league separately from the Brotherhood Crusade but received support from the Los Angeles-based civil rights group.

McClinton's organization “wasn’t just sports. It was the essence of what people want youth sports to be about — a teaching opportunity,” said Bakewell, who pledged financial support to preserve the league. “Victor was the most selfless person I knew. It’s a tragic loss, not only to his family but to all of Pasadena.”

McClinton’s widow and two sons did not attend the gathering but thanked attendees through a letter read by a friend of the family.

McClinton and Bakewell’s son, Danny Bakewell Jr., were classmates at Verbum Dei High School in Los Angeles, had worked together as YMCA coaches in Pasadena and remained close friends as adults.

Bakewell Jr. said McClinton was raised by his grandmother in Watts and took up coaching “to be the father he never had.” 

Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said detectives have been working around the clock to find McClinton’s killer. He told those gathered to honor McClinton’s legacy by reacting to his death “with civic order.”

“Victor changed Pasadena one young person, one family, one sports game at a time,” said Sanchez. “He went about his business with little fanfare or drama.”

As an organizer who filled in as referee and coach when needed, McClinton “made sure everybody got into the game,” said Mason Williams, a sophomore at St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge who joined the Brotherhood league at age 5.

That included 13-year-old Claire Engstrom of Pasadena, one of a handful of girls who elected to play on basketball teams dominated by boys.

McClinton “always tried to look out for her and make sure she could keep up with the boys. He encouraged her to stick with it, to not give up,” said mother Kimberly Engstrom.

“He always remembered our names,” added Kimberly Engstrom’s 10-year-old son, Keegan, a flag football player.

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-- Joe Piasecki, Times Community News

Photo: Robin Quintanilla, center, is comforted by her mother, Ana, during a vigil for Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department technician Victor McClinton. Credit: Cheryl A. Guerrero / Pasadena Sun.

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