Profile: Arthur Ray's return from cancer
In 2009, the Big Ten Network brought you the inspiring story of Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. – a blue-chip recruit from Chicago’s legendary Mt. Carmel High School who in 2007 was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his left leg just weeks after signing with MSU.
At the time of the piece, Ray was cancer-free and off his crutches for the first time in nearly two years. With his spirits high and an eagerness to return to football full-time, Ray suffered yet another setback – an infection. He wasn’t cleared to play again for another 18 months. This Saturday, BTN will air a follow-up feature at 10:30 a.m. ET as part of our pregame show on how one of his teammates gave him his starting spot in the season opener.
“It’s a story about Arthur, but it’s also about a selfless act from teammate Joel Foreman who calls Arthur ‘his brother,’” BTN feature producer Dan Lindberg said. “We hope it will be interesting for viewers to hear from Ray both in an interview we did in 2009 about how badly he wanted to come back, and an interview we did last week reflecting on his entire journey.”
For the past four years, Ray had to sit and watch the team take the field without him. The two guys in Ray’s recruiting class, Mark Dantonio’s first, have blossomed into captains – Foreman and Kirk Cousins.
“When Coach D first offered us, Arthur was the first guy I got to know,” Foreman said. “When we first came in and we were going to start, we actually asked Coach D to room together.”
Although that start never came because Ray had to withdraw, Foreman remained a supportive friend .
“Joel has always been there for me,” Ray said. “Even his mom called my mom sometimes when I was at home. The whole Foreman family. They have been real supportive throughout this whole process.”
“I was in class and Coach D called me and said that the papers finally went through and the NCAA cleared me to participate in Spring ball, and I was so grateful,” Ray said. “I called my mom, cried a little bit and then got ready for practice.”
Thursday night, the night before the game, Ray and Foreman roomed together, just the way they planned as incoming freshman.
“In the world of sports, clichés are thrown around regularly, but out of all the athletes and coaches I’ve dealt with directly, or whose story I’m familiar with, no person is more deserving of the saying, ‘there’s nothing he can’t do,’” Lindberg said. “With Arthur, there are no limitations, anything is possible.”
– Written by Derek Reinglass, BTN Communications Staff