Derek Gray, a basketball player from the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, died on Sunday, the school announced. He was 20 years old. The cause of death has not been announced, but Warhawks head coach Pat Miller paid tribute to Gray in an emotional statement.
"Our program is devastated by the loss of Derek Gray, Miller said. Derek was beloved and respected by his teammates for his unique ability to develop meaningful connections with every individual throughout our program. He was an intelligent, compassionate, and inquisitive person by nature. "I'll forever cherish our long talks about life, community, basketball and the various issues of our day. As a basketball player, Derek led by example with a consistent work ethic and desire to always get better at the game he loved.
Warhawk Nation mourns the loss of Derek Gray, a student-athlete on the Warhawk men's basketball team, who passed away unexpectedly on July 24th, 2022, playing the game he loved. pic.twitter.com/gHkyMr23NP— Warhawk Athletics (@UWWAthletics) July 26, 2022
"He was a tenacious competitor and a dynamic athlete, that did everything possible to help ensure his team achieved success. He was both respected and valued by his teammates at a level few in our program have ever achieved. He's left a legacy in our program that will be remembered and emulated by players for generations to come. I wish to extend my deepest condolences to his mother, Traci, as well as his entire family, friends and all that are grieving from this loss."
Gray was a two-year member of the Wisconsin-Whitewater men's basketball team. Last year, Gray was a first-team All-WICA and third-team D3hoops.com All-Region 9. During the 2021-22 season, Gray averaged 17.8 points, six rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in 25 games.
"Words cannot describe how we all feel about the loss of Derek," UW-Whitewater Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Ryan Callahan said. "He was an amazing young man with a bright future. My heart goes out to his family and all that were fortunate enough to get to know Derek."
The UW-Whitewater Men's Basketball Tip-Off Club launched a GoFundMe page to help with the funeral expenses and raised over $18,000 as of Friday afternoon. "On Sunday, July 24th, Derek Gray tragically passed away while playing the game he loved," the statement on the GoFundMe page read. "Derek was a standout player on the UW-Whitewater Men's Basketball team and a graduate of La Follette High School in Madison."