By Zach Armstrong
PRINCE GEORGE, Va -- After a months-long battle with liver cancer and cirrhosis, longtime middle school and high school basketball coach Billy Gray died Sept. 6 at the age of 69.
Gray became an assistant under Bill Littlepage on the Hopewell boys team, a middle school coach at Luther Memorial where he achieved a 70-3 record over four years, a junior varsity coach at Prince George and the varsity girls coach at Prince George. He earned over 200 wins during his tenure coaching.
Recognized for his extra work and care for his players, Gray cooked for his players before games; hired workers to build new lockers at the Prince George locker room; hosted awards dinners for his players and hosted charity golf tournaments to raise money for cancer patients, the Wounded Warrior Project or the Prince George teams.
In one story told to the Richmond-Times Dispatch by former player Ariel Stephenson, Gray helped clean out her garage, taught her how to drive and gave her rides from practice after Stephenson’s father passed away in 2011. Gray honored Stephenson’s father by having the team play a game in his memory every year called the “Juan P. Stephenson Classic”.
In 2014 the Prince George girls basketball almost had an undefeated season winning their home tournament at Prince George, the Conference 12 tournament title and 22 straight basketball games until their season came to an in the first round of the Region Tournament.
“He left a huge impact on my life and really on all his players’ lives,” Stephenson said to the Richmond-Times Dispatch.
A Gofundme was created in March for Gray by his loved ones and organized by his daughter, Faith, after he was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer and cirrhosis. Part of the funding is meant to offset the eventual costs of end-of-life services and a memorial service in his honor. The account has raised almost $8,300.
“He has made it a point in his life to help others in their time of need, and has done it with his signature quick-witted sense of humor. Billy has always been quick to share a joke and a laugh with anyone within speaking distance.” stated the Gofundme account.