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Dr. Derwin Gray, Wife Vicki, Share ‘Root Out Racism’ Message To BYU Athletics

Former BYU safety Derwin Gray shares the gospel of Jesus Christ at Transformation Church. (Photo courtesy of Transformation Church)

PROVO, Utah – Dr. Derwin Gray is one of the great alumni from the BYU football program. From stutterer out of high school to NFL player to now pastor, motivational speaker, and best-selling author. Gray is a beloved individual in the BYU community.

Along the way, Gray and his wife, Vicki, a fellow former BYU student-athlete (Javelin thrower; 1988-1991), have always made time for their alma mater.

Dr. Derwin & Vicki Gray share messages to root out racism

The Gray’s traveled to Provo from their North Carolina home to share messages to BYU student-athletes from the football, men’s basketball, and other athletic programs.

Last June, Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, issued a call to action to root out racism in partnership with leaders of the NAACP. BYU, owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is in lock-step with that directive.

“What does it look like to root out racism? And in the face of it, that seems like a simple question. But always below and underneath, there are things that are lurking,” said Derwin Gray in an interview with BYUtv. “So what we want to try to do is to help create a context and an environment where all people feel welcome in love.”

Since President Nelson’s call to root out racism, BYU has created a landing page at race.byu.edu where current or former students and staff can share their feelings about race, equity, and belonging at the faith-based institution. They created an associate athletic director position for student-athlete development, diversity, and inclusion, where they hired former Women’s College Basketball athlete Whitney Johnson.

Vicki Gray applauded BYU’s current student-athlete support system calling it “incredible.” As a former non-LDS student-athlete at BYU, she challenged current coaches, administrators, and support staff to be an ally for minorities on campus.

“This conversation needs to be rooted and take place in the person of Jesus Christ. So I’ve been sharing the story of the Good Samaritan and how a Samaritan was not supposed to be the hero of that story because Jews and Gentiles in the first-century world had ethnic conflict like it was deep,” said Dr. Gray. “But yet, Jesus tells his story where an unlikely person exhibits unlikely love to someone that’s supposed to be an enemy. And what we’ve got to understand is at the end of the day, rooting out racism becomes love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

“One of the most spectacular people that we’ve had address our athletic department.”

Last summer, Gray spoke to the BYU Basketball team weeks after George Floyd’s killing in Minnesota via Zoom. Dr. Gray and BYU hoops had a conversation about racial issues happening in America. BYU head basketball coach Mark Pope was once again impressed with Gray during his visit to Provo on Tuesday.

“To have him here in person with his wife was truly one of the most spectacular people that we’ve had address our athletic department and our team in a long time,” said Pope on his weekly coaches show (KSL NewsRadio, Tuesday, 9 p.m.). “He and his wife have such a magical way of taking ridiculously complicated, partisan, emotion-charged issues and bringing them straight back to the Gospel where nothing is dumbed down, and you understand them more profoundly.”

The Gray’s run one of the fastest-growing churches in America in The Transformation Church, located in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Their messages resonated with many in BYU athletics. BYU forward/center Matt Haarms wrote on his personal Instagram stories, “Really grateful to be able to listen to pastor Gray speak today!”

During his interview with BYUtv, Gray noted an illustration he gave to the various teams that he felt connected with those listening, “In elementary school, most people wrote on a right-handed desk, right? Even if you’re left-handed, you wrote on a right-handed desk. For us who are right-handed, it was great. But for those who are left-handed, it was not great. So for those who are right-handed, we had right privilege. It doesn’t mean we didn’t work hard; it just meant the desk was made for us. Left-handed people worked even harder because the desk wasn’t made for them.

“Oftentimes, we see the world from well, ‘Doesn’t everybody have a right hand?’ No. There are people with left hands. And love says, ‘let’s go make more left-handed desk. So the left-handed people can recognize that left-handed people’s lives matter, too.'”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.

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