About 700 people gather in support of injured football player

Taylor Robinson, exercise physiology junior, signs the poster. Photo by Elias Maki.

 

[Editor’s note: The Wichitan staff has confirmed late Tuesday evening that Robert Grays died after injuries sustained in Saturday’s game. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and the football team during this time.]

About 700 people supported cornerback Robert Grays, general business sophomore, at the community gathering Sept. 18 at Sunwatcher Plaza.

“This is not a vigil, but a service for strength for those hurting for Rob,” Bill Maskill, head football coach, said as he opened. “He is a guy you’ll love to be around, and as I walked up here I want to make sure this is a support for him and his family.”

Immediately after Maskill opened the floor to the crowd for words of encouragement, Bryce Martinez, business sophomore and wide receiver, strode to the podium.

“People think it’s going to take a miracle — Rob is a miracle, the things he would do are miraculous,” Martinez said. “He’s the smallest dude I know, the strongest dude I know, the biggest heart I know.”

Suzanne Shipley, university president, Stephen Santellana, mayor, and Jennifer Renner spoke to encourage the community to “hold your heads up” in times of duress.

According to Adrian Seales, criminal justice junior and running back, who is also from Grays’ hometown, Grays brought “positive energy to the game” and he feels “lost without him.”

MSU football homegame against Oklahoma Panhandle state photo by Izziel Latour

While Grays and his family are in Houston, Santellana said his Mustangs family will continue to keep him in their thoughts and prayers.

“It’s sad that we have to gather at an event like this, just to bind us together, but let it fuel you, because although I didn’t meet his family, I am 100 percent proud to stand in front of this Midwestern family,” Santellana said.

With 3:24 left in Saturday’s game against Texas A&M-Kingsville, Grays made a routine tackle that ended with him being taken off the field in an ambulance.

“He’s made this tackle hundreds of times, but it was just one of those situations that landed wrong,” Kyle Williams, interim athletic director, said. “It was traumatic for all of us, particularly the football players. As a campus, we are thinking about him every day.”

According to Tramain Thomas, graduate assistant and defensive backs coach, it’s “evident” in his short amount of time as a student, Grays “impacted many lives.”

“I want people to know that Rob is probably one of the strongest people on our team,” Thomas said. “Rob is all heart, and he is one of our players we lean on in tough times, so I feel like it’s our duty to honor Rob in that same fashion, so we just got to be his rock while he is fighting his tail-end off.

Because of the community outreach and support from Grays, Williams said the campus called for the gathering.

“He’s one of ours. He’s a Mustang,” Williams said. “We’re being prayerful and intentional with our thoughts during this time.”

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Nicole Coetzer, nursing senior, signs a poster for football player Robert Grays. Photo by Harlie David
Nicole Coetzer, nursing senior, signs a poster for football player Robert Grays. Photo by Harlie David
Molly Whitaker, special education sophomore, signs a poster for football player Robert Grays. Photo by Harlie David
Molly Whitaker, special education sophomore, signs a poster for football player Robert Grays. Photo by Harlie David
Juliana Matthew, exercise physiology sophomore, signs the poster at the community gathering. Photo by Elias Maki
Juliana Matthew, exercise physiology sophomore, signs the poster at the community gathering. Photo by Elias Maki
Taylor Robinson, exercise physiology junior, signs the poster. Photo by Elias Maki.
Taylor Robinson, exercise physiology junior, signs the poster. Photo by Elias Maki.
Taylor Robinson, exercise physiology junior, signs the poster. Photo by Elias Maki.
Taylor Robinson, exercise physiology junior, signs the poster. Photo by Elias Maki.
Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana, Jacob Sherrill, a respiratory therapy, and Provost James Johnston sign the poster for injured football player.
Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana, Jacob Sherrill, a respiratory therapy, and Provost James Johnston sign the poster for injured football player.
Students wait to sign the poster for injured football player. Photo by Elias Maki.
Students wait to sign the poster for injured football player. Photo by Elias Maki.
Football players honor injured player at the community gathering. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Football players honor injured player at the community gathering. Photo by Bradley Wilson

Additional reporting by Kara McIntyre, Justin Marquart and Mica Victorian-Holland.

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Comments

  1. Wanda Smith says:

    SO Nice and Comforting, to see University students standing together for someone injured (not dead). To read and see photos of you all as one team, one Unit together for another fellow classmates is great!!! I’ve added my faith and praying with you. MSU is where I graduated from about 20 years ago. Maybe next year I will be able to attend homecoming week. So happy I’ve connected with Midwestern State University from Anchorage, Alaska.
    Blessings to ALL of you and your families.