Religion is now a lifestyle for Beecher’s Marquise Gray, basketball remains his addiction

March 3, 2011

By Eric Woodyard | The Flint Journal

FLINT, Michigan — Marquise Gray has a recurring dream just about every night.

He’s in the National Basketball Association, he doesn’t know what team he’s on. It’s the tip-off, he has on the number 45 with a stylish headband to match his jersey. Before the ball goes up he looks in the front row and gives a wink, he doesn’t know who it’s directed to.

What the Beecher graduate does know is that this may be a sign.

“I feel like that’s God telling me don’t let the dream die,” Gray said of his NBA aspirations. “In the word it says if you have faith the size of a mustard seed than you can move a mountain.”

A mustard seed is typically 1 or 2 mm in diameter.

Gray feels it only takes that much certainty.

On Wednesday, he boarded a plane to Mexico with great certainty of his abilities while preparing for his second season of international basketball. Last year, Gray played in Turkey for the Gelisim Koleji while averaging 17 points and 10.7 boards per contest.

In 2009, Gray played on the Detroit Pistons’ summer league team but couldn’t crack the team’s regular season roster.

“I had the chance to grow as a man. Did I like everything that happened? No.” Gray
reflected. “If I could would I change some stuff? Yes. But at the same time, everything that I went through made me the man that I am today.”

Gray spent four years playing for the Michigan State Spartans where he averaged 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds over his career. In high school, he was regarded as one of the top players in the nation. His 2004 prep class included future NBA players: Marvin Williams, Dwight Howard, Al Jefferson, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, and Jordan Farmar.

Some scouts at the time even believed Gray could have skipped college to walk across the stage and shake commissioner David Stern’s hand directly after receiving his diploma.

But Gray wasn’t caught up in the hype, largely because of the tough love he received from his older brother, Keenan.

“I just wanted to keep him level-headed, because if he got to the point where he thought he was too good then maybe he would stop working,” Keenan said. “I wouldn’t tell him ‘good game.’ I would point out everything wrong he did.”

“I had the chance to go out of high school but I promised my mother I was going to get my education,” Gray added. “If I would’ve went to the league out of high school, yeah, I would have had the money but I would have been bounced around. I wasn’t mature enough to handle that lifestyle.”

Before he left his hometown to go overseas, Gray had to fulfill a commitment he made to his family at the Second Chance Church. He opened the doors to the gym at his church home last Saturday —formerly identified as Stewart Elementary school — for kids in the area to play on his Wii system, board games and basketball.

Gray thinks the kids need to be more “God-conscious,” which is something he developed after his NBA dream halted and he went off to play in Turkey.

“I want to let them know that it’s someone that’s not much older than them but at the same time still can relate to some of the things they’re going through,” Gray said. “I just want to let them know that I care (and) let them know that I love them.”

The members of the church applaud his energy.

“To see him, it’s a blessing and it brings a smile on my face because he doesn’t have to do this,” 56-year-old Second Chance Church attendee Jimmie Hatcher said. “He could be out doing something for himself but here he is doing something for them.”

Religion is now a way of life for Gray but basketball is still his passion. He describes his attraction to the game as if it were a drug. The 6-foot-8 baller believes he itches when he’s away from the sport for too long.

He can scratch that itch again with his second pro season just around the corner.



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