After polishing off some of his favorite dishes, including his mom's stuffing and potato salad, Earl would return to his team's practice facility late in the evening for a few hours of extra shooting.
"Sometimes, man, you'd get there and the security guard would be sleeping," Earl said, "and sometimes they don't open the gate."
It was nothing new for Clark. Teams had been sleeping on him for his first 31/2 seasons in the NBA.
The end-of-the-bench reserve didn't log one minute on the court during his parents' visit, which wasn't surprising considering he had rarely played for most of his pro career.
Before his parents headed back to their New Jersey home, they told Clark not to get discouraged.
"We said, 'Be patient and be ready. Your time is coming,'" Larry Clark recalled.
Was it ever.
Meet the newest Lakers starter, Earl Clark.
A player who had logged a total of 37 minutes over the season's first two months is now being introduced alongside Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.
Starting at forward, in his fourth season from Louisville, No. 6 . . .
Hearing Staples Center P.A. announcer Lawrence Tanter say his name isn't the only perk Clark has enjoyed in recent weeks.
"Just waking up knowing I'm going to play," he said, "is a great feeling."
The feel-good story of the Lakers' season was largely a result of aches and pains felt by Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill. A spate of injuries to the big men early this month opened a spot for the 6-foot-10 Clark, who seized the opportunity and hasn't let go.
He played what was then a season-high 20 minutes against Houston on Jan. 8, impressing with his hustle and defense. The next day brought more tangible evidence of his potential: career highs of 22 points and 13 rebounds against San Antonio.
Clark has started seven of eight games since, supplanting four-time All-Star Gasol as part of Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni's insistence on a smaller, quicker lineup. D'Antoni said Clark's sustained effort and versatility as someone who can defend all five positions could keep him in that spot for the rest of the season.
"Just his defense alone will help us," D'Antoni said of a player who has averaged 10.6 points and 9.4 rebounds since moving into the rotation. "Whatever else is gravy."
Clark's meat-and-potatoes stretch with the Lakers has followed years of fighting for scraps.
Phoenix drafted him 14th overall in 2009, with then-general manager Steve Kerr envisioning Clark as an uber-athletic, Shawn Marion-style defender. But he didn't get much of a chance during a rookie season in which a veteran team made a surprising run to the Western Conference finals.