Take a good look at No. 73 in the above picture. That, right there, is someone we should all be proud of.
After three-plus years, several surgeries, countless hours of chemotherapy and rehab, Michigan State football player Arthur Ray Jr. is finally practicing with the Spartans.
In the spring of 2007, Ray was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer in his shin. At that time he was a three-star recruit and part of coach Mark Dantonio’s first recruiting class at Michigan State. The offensive lineman was the 18th ranked guard in the 2007 class and was noted for his toughness. He needed every ounce of that toughness to get where he is now.
On Wednesday afternoon Ray put on pads and a helmet for the first time since his senior year at Mt. Carmel High School (Chicago) in the fall of 2006. Ray was cleared by doctors to practice in January, but he needed to be cleared by the NCAA, because he had been declared a medical disqualification for 2010, meaning his scholarship wouldn’t count against the NCAA limit of 85. Michigan State then petitioned the NCAA for a reversal of his disqualification status. It was granted on Wednesday. Thank God the NCAA finally got something right.
Ray was in class when Dantonio gave him the news. He said he immediately broke into tears and called his mother.
Ray will be listed as a fourth-year senior this fall after taking two semesters off of school to battle his illness, then spending two years on crutches. He seems to have faced every type of adversity on his road to recovery, including infections to the surgically repaired area.
Ray is currently listed at 6’3, 300 pounds and he will likely be no more than a third-string player. But frankly, that doesn’t matter. After everything he’s been through just getting to suit up and play college football is truly a blessing for him.
Dantonio summed it up best: “It has been a long journey. I think it also gives hope to everybody who is (in) any kind of tough situation in their life that if you just keep pushing, push through adversity you’ve got a chance.”
We wish Arthur Ray all the best and hope to see him on the sidelines for the Spartans this fall.