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‘He was a gentle soul’: Clippers mourn death of video assistant Assane Drame

Teams are introduced prior to Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Finals between the Clippers and the Phoenix Suns.
Teams are introduced prior to Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Finals between the Clippers and the Phoenix Suns on June 24 at Staples Center.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Assane Drame, an employee of the Clippers’ digital content group who was remembered by the team and friends as a creative mind and loyal friend, died Monday in a traffic accident in Los Angeles, according to the team.

Drame was 26. He had lived in Los Angeles since 2019, when he was hired by the Clippers as a video intern. He later became a video assistant within the department, and was known for his work creating video vignettes published on social media.

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In a statement, the team said it was mourning a dedicated employee known as more than a videographer.

“He was a hard worker and a gentle soul, passionate about his craft and kind to his colleagues, earning the respect and admiration of players, coaches and staff,” the team said.

Drame was born in New York City’s Bronx borough and later raised in New Jersey, southeast of Philadelphia, where he attended high school, according to his personal website. He graduated from Rowan University with a degree in radio, television and film, after working as a videographer within the school’s athletics department, according to his LinkedIn profile, and contributed analysis about the Phoenix Suns for a blog where his biography described himself as “one of the three or four Suns fans in the area.”

He also worked at the school’s television network, where he stood out as “a positive and jovial person,” said Taylor Forte, who met Drame while working on shows at the network and later moved to Los Angeles, as well.

“What stood out is his presence when he was just in the building,” Forte said. “Even if we weren’t on the same show at the same time, whoever he would pass in the hallway, he would have this big, big smile.”

Drame had worked the team’s media day Monday at its Playa Vista facility and late that night stopped by the team’s downtown business office to pick up equipment, according to a roommate, Marina Lopez. When he was not heard from by the following afternoon, and his car was not found at the Palms property where they lived with another roommate, she filed a missing person’s report with Los Angeles police Tuesday afternoon. Friends in the city began a search for his whereabouts on social media, she said. The same day, the head of the Clippers’ human resources department contacted Drame’s father and sister in New Jersey out of concern for his whereabouts.

In a reversal from the way Clippers leaders recently handled questions about the team’s vaccination status, coach Tyronn Lue said Wednesday the team is fully vaccinated.

Drame’s sister, Fatou, initially took her search for her brother to social media Wednesday morning, but by the afternoon wrote on Twitter that he had died in an accident.

“Just heard the sad news,” Clippers forward Nicolas Batum wrote on Twitter. “Rest In Peace King.”

Sam Taylor, a friend who met Drame at Rowan, was struck that even while building credentials in a competitive media industry, Drame took time to raise awareness around the work of fellow creators he met or admired on social media.

“So understanding, so welcoming, so nice, so kind, at all times,” Taylor said. “It’s difficult to be a good person in this world but he was somebody, everything he did he exemplified what a good person is.”

When Drame moved out of a co-living community in October, he wrote Lopez, one of his roommates at the time, a note to thank her while instructing her to “imagine we’re in an anime, and you’re reading this like my voice is in your head,” Lopez said. The roommates had taught Drame how to do laundry, she said; he taught them about Islam and his background as a first-generation American whose family came from Senegal.

“Keep your head up, you have a solid head on your shoulders and just need to lock in, dig deeper, begin with the end in mind, you’ll be fine as long as you maintain and be positive, remember that,” Drame wrote in his note, according to Lopez. “There are people who indeed care for you. Of course you’re aware of this, but the real ones know.”

Drame, Lopez and another roommate then moved back in together again in May, she said. She recalled Drame’s skill at acting as a cool-headed mediator amid miscommunications, with a taste for brightly colored clothes, who talked often about his desire to one day become a husband and father. Drame and Lopez had discussed taking a trip to San Francisco in October.

“This world would be a better place with people like Assane,” she said. “He loved discussing things that needed to change in the world.”


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