Ray's Return To Spartans More Than Football

After signing with Michigan State in the Class of 2007, Arthur Ray Jr. took the Spartans practice field with a smile and renewed confidence for the first time this past week. Football, the sport of gladiators, gave Ray something to dream about and the fighting sprit needed to fight a battle we now see too often.

Cancer, a word any parent prays they never hear from a doctor about their child. However, in 2007 the family of Arthur Ray Jr. received the news their son had been diagnosed with cancer after a cancerous tumor was found on his leg weeks before the start a promising career at Michigan State University on a football scholarship.

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Ray was a highly thought of recruit who earned a Scout.com 3-star ranking as the 36-th best guard in the country.

Many expected Ray, who had given Boston College an early verbal pledge, to be one of Mark Dantonio's prized recruits in his first class as head coach of Michigan State. Getting Ray came about with the departure of Boston College head coach Tom O'Brien to North Carolina State.

When I first spoke with Ray in January of 2007 he had just given the Spartans his commitment and was sold on the family feeling he got from the coaching staff. Ray had the following to say about his future coaching staff.

"I had a chance to spend time with Coach Staten, Coach Enos, Coach Treadwell and Coach Roushar during my visit. I feel like I am part of the family now and can't wait till it's time to report and start playing."

While the feeling of family is one thing recruits and their families hope for when all is said and done with the recruiting process, Ray and his family learned their Spartan family has never given up on his fight against cancer or his dream to get back on the field.

Spartans offensive coordinator Dan Roushar, who was Ray's main recruiter out of high school, spoke about Ray's inspiration to his teammates on news of his return.

"We're all thrilled for Arthur, especially when you think about the surgeries, the chemotherapy treatments and the countless hours of rehabilitation. For Arthur to return to the practice field today, I'm sure it felt like his Super Bowl moment. His return to the field was emotional for many of us.

"When Coach (Mark) Dantonio delivered the news that Arthur had been cleared to return to practice, the entire team erupted into applause. He has inspired many of his teammates during this remarkable journey."

For Ray, receiving the news from Coach Dantonio he had been cleared to return to the field was emotional.

"I was in class, and I just cried tears of joy. I called my mom. It's the best feeling in the world right now."

While it is too early to place any expectations on what Ray can give the Spartans in the future, do not be surprised if Arthur Ray Jr. continues to win his gladiator battle against cancer.

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