Facetime: Arthur Ray Jr.
Former MSU offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. had a long and arduous journey to his first career game as a Spartan.
After being offered a scholarship to MSU, Ray was diagnosed with osteosarcoma — a rare bone cancer that often is diagnosed in teenage boys — during his senior year of high school in 2007. Many doctors doubted Ray would ever return to the field again.
Ray overcame years of setbacks and was cleared by doctors for conditioning in January 2011 and later was activated on the MSU roster during spring practice.
Ray’s first game came in the 2011 MSU home opener under the lights against Youngstown State, which later led to him earning the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl/Football Writers Association of America Courage Award, which is awarded to a college football player who shows courage on and off the field.
With a clean bill of health, Ray transferred to Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., in January for the 2013 season and will look to earn playing time under former MSU football head coach John L. Smith.
The State News spoke with Ray about his journey from being diagnosed with cancer, his return to the football field and what he’s expecting in the immediate future.
The State News: Talk about being diagnosed with cancer and how that changed your life.
Arthur Ray Jr.: I recently signed my scholarship to State, and I was told about a week later that I had to immediately start chemotherapy, so it was a really rough time in my life. Going on six years now — it was hectic, real hectic for me. I was in chemotherapy for a year and half and spent two years on crutches. Coach (Mark Dantonio) told me that I’d be kept on scholarship, and I did my time at Michigan State, graduated this past September and now everything’s well.
TSN: What was it like coming back after not playing for four years in the home opener against Youngstown State in 2011?
AR: It was special. It was a big moment in my recovery. It was vital just that time alone, stepping back out there and realizing my dreams can come true. It was another step to my ultimate goal that I wanted to reach.
TSN: How much did working with Coach Dantonio and the coaching staff help you progress as a football player?
AR: It helped me a lot; I learned so much about the game. Being hurt for so long — my mental side and the mental aspect of the game really grew with me — I’ve always been a student of the game. Whether it was watching film or learning new things, new tricks of the trade. It was real good for me to be around the staff and be around great coaches like (former MSU offensive coordinator) Coach (Dan) Roushar, so it was well.