Jerry West: The Mountaineer Boys State Alum Who Became Mr. Clutch

Jerry West, the legendary figure whose silhouette defines the NBA logo, left an indelible mark on basketball and on the hearts of those at Mountaineer Boys State. West, who attended the program in 1955 as a Nationalist in Gilmer cottage, passed away today, leaving behind a legacy of excellence and inspiration.

In his memoir, West recounts the pivotal summer of '55, when he returned from Boys State to meet Fred Schaus, West Virginia’s coach, who would be the first to recruit him. It was at Boys State, held at Jackson’s Mill, where he met Willie Akers, forming a friendship and a competitive bond that would last a lifetime. West’s performance at Boys State not only showcased his athletic prowess but also instilled in him a newfound self-confidence and a sense of belonging.

His time at Boys State was a precursor to his storied career, from his heroic plays at West Virginia University to his enduring legacy with the Los Angeles Lakers. West’s journey from the courts of Morgantown to the glitz of Los Angeles was marked by the same determination and humility he carried from his days at Boys State.

West’s commitment to nurturing young talent, whether at fantasy camps or through mentoring, mirrored the values he cherished from Boys State—self-improvement and the pursuit of dreams. His departure to Los Angeles in 1960 may have been his third from home, but it was his time at Boys State that laid the foundation for a lifetime of achievements.

As we remember Jerry West, we celebrate not just a basketball icon, but a Mountaineer who exemplified the spirit of Boys State—leadership, community, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. Rest in peace, Jerry West, the “Men of Tomorrow” will continue to be inspired by your story.