Gamecock Jesus has died. USC community mourns super fan’s passing

Carlton Thompson, known as South Carolina super fan Gamecock Jesus, has died.

Thompson was 69 years old. He was diagnosed with cancer last year, according to reporting done by WIS-TV.

The University of South Carolina, through a social media post, confirmed Thompson’s passing Wednesday morning: “Carlton Thompson, our beloved ‘Gamecock Jesus,’ has the best seat in the house tonight. He loved his Gamecocks. We loved him.”

Thompson was a fixture at men’s and women’s basketball games throughout the years, seated on or near the baseline. He said he stopped cutting his hair and grew a beard back in 1973, giving him the moniker of Gamecock Jesus or Baseline Jesus.

He was known for his loud and supportive cheers — and his jumping and stomping — in support of the Gamecocks.

“I am just trying to share the enthusiasm I have and get people to get up on their feet and create a real home-court advantage because that is what really helps,” Thompson told The State in 2015. “The players really feed off the crowd, especially the students. That is why I am here jumping around every game.”

USC women’s coach Dawn Staley posted this to X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday morning: “I can’t even….what an angel well beyond today. His life was called to serve and he did it without complaint and full of joy. Gamecock Jesus you know all of us @GamecockWBB genuinely loved you. Heaven opened its door and welcomed you.”

A few of the other remembrances that poured from fans Wednesday on social media:

RIP to an absolute Legend. Basketball games won’t be the same without Gamecock Jesus. Been a staple and a fixture at the Coliseum and CLA since I can remember.

No one has cheered for both basketball programs harder than Gamecock Jesus!

Rest on Gamecock Jesus. Such a light to the world and our fanbase.

Rest in peace to a legend… embodied our spirit to the end. Be easy, Gamecock

Gamecock Jesus was a legend he was always at the women’s games when I’d go with my sisters and the arena was empty, but he was the loudest one

Opponents free throw % dropped at CLA because of you.

Thompson, a retired nurse, started going to Gamecock games as a sophomore when he attended Branchville High School back in 1968 and said he “was hooked ever since.” Thompson graduated from USC’s nursing school in 1982 and continued to attend games.

When USC men made it to the Final Four in 2017, a USC student set up a GoFundMe page to raise money so Thompson could get to Arizona and cheer on the Gamecocks. More than $8,000 was raised to cover travel costs for him and his family.

“I was in Five Points taking pictures and celebrating with everybody. And then when I got back … they said there’s a GoFundMe for you and they’re going to send you to Phoenix,” Thompson told WIS. “I couldn’t believe it. I’m gonna spend it. I’m gonna use it to get us all there to help win … to help bring back the hardware.

“It’s not enough to go. This team will tell you it’s not enough to go. You gotta win.”

Said USC men’s basketball radio announcer Derek Scott via X on Wednesday: “Carlton was a wonderful guy, whose passion for Gamecock Athletics was matched by his compassion for others. He will be missed greatly by his family & everyone who knew him. RIP.”