The Gray family has a full household, with Cedar High senior and football linebacker Bailey Gray coming in at number two of eight children, Bailey takes his role in the family as a personal one and contributes where he can.
Competition among siblings is natural. Bailey readily admits that he like to think he trains harder than his younger brother, David, who himself is an athlete albeit of the aquatic type swimming for the Redmen. “I know it’s different as a swimmer and he shows me up and likes to show me that he is a faster swimmer than I am whenever we are in the pool at the aquatic center,” Bailey shares, “But when we get into the gym and lift weights together, I have the advantage. It’s nothing too serious, we poke at each other but have fun with it.”
Currently singing in the Madrigals Choir at school Bailey has a few other talents outside his natural athletic ability. Singing Tenor, Bailey will have the opportunity to visit Europe next summer for the Utah Ambassadors of Music. What makes this upcoming experience all the sweeter is that Bailey will get to share it with one of his younger siblings. “Another thing David and I have in common is our love for music because he will also be able to go with me to Europe since he plays in band.”
Star Wars is a staple in the Gray family, so much so that when Bailey was younger becoming a Jedi was a legitimate goal of his. “When I was little, I thought being a Jedi was an actual job so I was out in the backyard practicing my light saber skills so that when I was older I could defeat the Darth Vader’s or Darth Maul’s out there.” While not quite panning out the way he had thought it would, Bailey put his light saber skills to more productive use, tweaking his stance and swing to accommodate his love for baseball. Tami, Bailey’s mother recalls, “His warm up swing looked nothing like a normal baseball swing, it was more along the lines of [complete with sound effects] swinging a light saber.”
This interest in Star Wars and the Jedi would help serve Bailey well when dealing with his most difficult moment. The all to familiar phrase, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” uttered by the beloved Yoda character in the franchise would ring true for the Cedar linebacker when he was faced with a decision that would take a great deal of work to overcome.
Getting cut from a team is always a gut wrenching experience. For Bailey, getting cut from the baseball team was just that. “When I was playing football as a sophomore I practiced with the varsity team, but I took one hit that kind of messed everything else up.” Bailey continues, “I got a contusion fracture in my elbow and it so I ended up losing a whole season of baseball that year.” Jarid, Bailey’s father remembers, “He couldn’t throw a ball for about ten months.”
Coming back after his injury Bailey knew he was not where he needed to be to play. “I remember how devastated I was,” shares Bailey. “Baseball was everything, I really felt like I wanted to shut down. It’s not a fun experience to get cut and told you can’t so something you love. Up until that moment I knew I was going to play college baseball for the University of Utah. That was my thing, and when that happened everything just shut down. I remember feeling really sick about it and I had to seriously take a day and think through it and ask myself, ‘Where do I want to go with this? What do I want to do now?’ Finally I just said, I have one more year left of school and I still have football. I took my frustrations out in the weight room and the whole experience motivated me to work even harder.”
Looking at the silver linings Bailey was able to add a significant amount of weight and muscle a lot earlier than anticipated after having spent so much time in the weight room. Admittedly small as a linebacker during his junior year Bailey took on the challenge his coaches gave him of reaching a weight of 180lbs in muscle. To go from a playing weight of 155lbs as a linebacker in his junior year to 180lbs that same year due to being cut from baseball has helped Bailey understand that he can do difficult things if he is dedicated and focused.
“With Bailey, what you see is what you get. There are not very many surprises with him.“– Tami Gray
“I got the weight before the school year ended,” Bailey proudly states. “Not only that but I hit my studies a lot harder too. What I learned from the whole experience was that you have just got to stay busy. That’s when it the most important, to use those difficult times as motivation to focus on being productive. If something doesn’t work out here, then I am going to be productive in other areas.”
“I am glad that Bailey was able to channel that experience into positive forward momentum for his other sport because I always thought he wasn’t big enough to play college football but now I think he can.” Tami shares further, “Even if he doesn’t, I think he has shown that he can be a jock and do well, to be able to do other things and always be a good person towards others.”
When you are the big brother it is not uncommon to have a sibling or two want to grow up and follow in your footsteps. Bailey has experienced this first hand with his younger brothers Andrew and Josh, who have referred to their older brother as their hero. Taking this newfound responsibility to heart Bailey understands the impact his actions have on those around them. “I’m not going to lie,” he says. “It feels good to have someone look up to you but it also really puts the spotlight on you. You have to be careful what you do. I have to always make sure I am setting a good example, doing the right things. It does make me feel good but most important I think it’s a big responsibility.”
Jarid and Tami, recalled an experience their son Josh had in a Sunday School class where Josh was asked who he admired and looked up to most. Proudly sharing, “When Josh was twelve at the time and he was tearing up, and he talked about Bailey and all the reasons why he looked up to him and how much he loved him.”
Knowing this will be his final year and moving on to the next phase of his life Bailey’s sensitive side does come out. He sees the opportunities around him as positive ones and knows that his example for his brothers must always be positive and uplifting ones, even during the difficult times. Challenges will come. This is a fact he fully embraces. Yet he takes comfort in the fact that he can overcome such challenges when faced with them.
Following the wisdom of the oft repeated words, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” Baliey is well prepared for anything that comes his way. • HSSI