University of Wisconsin – Whitewater is mourning the loss of a rising basketball star Derek Gray, who died unexpectedly on Sunday. He was 20 years old.
On Sunday, July 24, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater basketball player Derek Gray recently “passed away unexpectedly” while “playing the game he loved,” the school announced.
Gray was a standout player on the UW-Whitewater Men’s Basketball team and a graduate of La Follette High School in Madison.
Gray’s UW-Whitewater coach told 27 News that the player’s sudden death occurred at a campus basketball camp and was cardiac-related.
“It was a cardiac event,” UW-Whitewater Men’s Basketball Coach Pat Miller told 27 News. “He had a blockage.”
“I’ve been around for a long time. I’ve seen a lot of different things,” Miller said. “It was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever been a part of.”
“I love him. He’s a beautiful person,” Warhawks head coach Pat Miller told local outlet Channel 3000 News. “He was an incredible person. He was a player, I had a lot of long conversations (with him) about life, basketball, family, and community. He was a very intelligent guy, very intuitive, and I really enjoyed his perspectives.”
Added Miller: “His teammates loved him. He had a really unique ability to connect with all his teammates in different ways.”
Watch the news video below:
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s athletic department tweeted that the Warhawks’ guard Derek Gray “passed away unexpectedly on July 24, 2022, playing the game he loved.”
Warhawk Nation mourns the loss of Derek Gray, a student-athlete on the Warhawk men’s basketball team, who passed away unexpectedly on July 24th, 2022, playing the game he loved.
Warhawk Nation mourns the loss of Derek Gray, a student-athlete on the Warhawk men's basketball team, who passed away unexpectedly on July 24th, 2022, playing the game he loved. pic.twitter.com/gHkyMr23NP
— Warhawk Athletics (@UWWAthletics) July 26, 2022
Warhawks head coach Pat Miller paid tribute to Gray in an emotional statement.
“Our program is devastated by the loss of Derek Gray (Madison, Wis./La Follette). Derek was beloved and respected by his teammates for his unique ability to develop meaningful connections with every individual throughout our program. He was an intelligent, compassionate, and inquisitive person by nature,” said Pat Miller, head men’s basketball coach. “I’ll forever cherish our long talks about life, community, basketball, and the various issues of our day. As a basketball player, Derek led by example with a consistent work ethic and desire to always get better at the game he loved.
He was a tenacious competitor and a dynamic athlete, that did everything possible to help ensure his team achieved success. He was both respected and valued by his teammates at a level few in our program have ever achieved. He’s left a legacy in our program that will be remembered and emulated by players for generations to come. I wish to extend my deepest condolences to his mother, Traci, as well as his entire family, friends, and all that are grieving from this loss.”
Gray’s coach spoke about the tragic event:
UW-Whitewater men’s basketball coach Pat Miller told Madison, Wis. TV station WKOW that Derek collapsed at a basketball camp for kids on campus.
Miller said more than 100 children ages 10 through 17 attended the camp Sunday and were treated to pizza courtside as Gray, other players, counselors, and coaches played on the court.
“He was not labored; there was nothing we saw,” Miller said of the 20-year-old Gray.
Miller told 27 News when Gray collapsed and thought the player had experienced a seizure. Miller said emergency responders arrived quickly, and campers were escorted out of the facility without becoming aware of the player’s worsening condition.
He said emergency responders arrived quickly, and about 100 campers were escorted out of the facility without becoming aware of the player’s worsening condition.
“It was just a very surreal situation where you’re thinking, ‘Okay, he’s going to be all right,’ and then you’re very scared, and the longer it went on, it became apparent that this was extraordinarily serious,”
“I’ve been around for a long time; I’ve seen a lot of different things,” Miller said. “It was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever been a part of.”
The UW-Whitewater Men’s Basketball Tip-Off Club launched a GoFundMe page to help with the funeral expenses and raised over $20,000 as of Saturday afternoon.
On Sunday, July 24th, Derek Gray tragically passed away while playing the game he loved. Derek was a standout player on the UW-Whitewater Men’s Basketball team and a graduate of La Follette High School in Madison. Please join the fans and supporters of Derek Gray by making a donation in his memory and honor. 100% of the donations will go directly toward funeral expenses for a life gone too soon.
— Pat Miller (@CoachPatMiller) July 27, 2022
Gray majored in psychology with a minor in criminology. He was on pace to graduate in the spring of 2024.
“Words cannot describe how we all feel about the loss of Derek,” UW-Whitewater Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Ryan Callahan said. “He was an amazing young man with a bright future. My heart goes out to his family and all that were fortunate enough to get to know Derek.”
“I think it’s important for his Mom and his family to know how valued he was and appreciated he was,” Coach Miller said.
Before attending UW-Whitewater, Gray attended Madison’s La Follette High School and helped the basketball team to banner seasons, along with his twin brother and older brother.
“On behalf of Principal Mat [Thompson] and all [La Follette] High School Staff, it is with a profound sense of sadness that the La Follette community mourns the unexpected loss of former Lancer, Derek Gray,” Assistant Principal Cullen Haskins wrote in a statement. “Derek was a giant of La Follette basketball and Lancer athletics, and was at his best in the toughest games and most challenging moments. He was a true “gamer.” His toughness and tenacity on the court will always be remembered, and his kindness and smile off the court forever missed. As a well known student-athlete and basketball standout, his presence and impact on the La Follette community was far-reaching. His life, both on and off the court, had an enormous impact on all those who knew him. As we process this tremendous loss for our community, we ask you to join us in keeping Derek’s friends, teammates, and family in our thoughts.”
100 Percent Fed Up reported on July 22, 2022, on former Broncos Player Paul Duncan passing away at age 35 after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Duncan represented the fourth former NFL player to pass away recently. Others include Charles Johnson, Marion Barber, and Jimmy Williams.
Charles Johnson was 50 years old and found dead in his North Carolina hotel on July 20, with his cause of death unknown. He had played for a string of teams, including the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Marion Barber, 38, died of a heat stroke on June 1. He had spent most of his career playing for the Dallas Cowboys.
Jimmy Williams died on July 8 at age 43 after battling an undisclosed illness. Williams had played for the Seattle Seahawks in 2005 when they had made it to the Superbowl.
All these athletes died before their time and contribute to the trend of people dying of “natural causes” younger and younger in the past few years.
Individuals in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and early 50s continue to suffer sudden and unexpected deaths and health complications and have, throughout the past few years, in greater numbers than ever before.
Many speculate as to the cause for this jump in 2021 and 2022. However, certain factors seem popular, such as the COVID-19 vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccines themselves, from certain manufacturers, have been banned or heavily regulated in Northern Europe due to the potential health risks to young and healthy men, which includes cardiac arrest.