Jerry Gray graduated from Estacado in 1981. You might recognize his name. He was a standout athlete for the Matadors and went on to play football for the University of Texas and the Los Angeles Rams.
Today, you can find Jerry Gray roaming the sidelines every Sunday in the NFL. Gray is the Defensive Coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. After growing up in West Texas, he now calls western New York home.
Last week, a special delegation of Lubbock residents went to Buffalo, New York for the Bills and Detroit Lions game to honor Jerry Gray for his accomplishments. Among that delegation were two Estacado High School seniors selected to make the trip for their outstanding achievements and leadership abilities. They also made the trip as NewsChannel 11's high school correspondents. We gave them a camera and a list of questions and sent them away to find out 'Whatever Happened to Jerry Gray?'
The trip to Buffalo started early last Saturday, October 26th with an 8 a.m. flight out of Lubbock International Airport. Our high school correspondents are Estacado seniors, Charlie Knighten and Jeremy Cortez. We equipped the guys with some questions and an 8 mm video camera. It will be a couple of firsts for these two guys. They have never flown and never been to an NFL game.
"It'll be a great opportunity for me since he (Jerry Gray) went to Estacado and I go there now. It just gives me the spirit that I could be something big going to Estacado," says Cortez.
"Looking forward to the football game because I've never been to an NFL game before, and meeting some players, and going to New York, flying," says Knighten.
Jeremy and Charlie have City Bank, County Line, the Avalanche Journal, and the Grays to thank for the trip. Cory Powell of the Texas Tech University Community and Multicultural Affairs Department helped organize it. "It's part to recognize Jerry Gray for his accomplishments, but also it's to expose students to some things that will give them inspiration. It'll let them know that hard work does pay off," says Powell.
And after a picture with their parents, our high school correspondents were off to New York.
While there, the guys got to see it all. Their first stop in Buffalo was at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills. The next morning started early with a trip to Niagara Falls. Then, it was game time. The guys were not allowed to take the camera into the game. After the game it was dinner at the Gray's house. And then it was their first professional TV interview with Jerry, his wife Sherry and their son Jeremy.
Jerry says his fondest memories of Lubbock include running track with his brothers and his high school English teacher, "She's probably a legend around there. A lot of the things she taught me are things I still practice today," says Jerry. "I'm very appreciative of her and my time I had there."
Sherry says they are still very fond of Estacado and Lubbock and she encourages kids to stay in school and dream big. "People probably assume that we stress athletics in our family, but it's actually just the opposite. Academics are a priority around here. We're very grounded. That's one of the things growing up in Lubbock will do for you. It teaches you to put family first and that's what we do," says Sherry.
The whirlwind trip ended where it started, right back here at LIA. Both Jeremy and Charlie say it is a trip they will never forget. The Bills won that game against Detroit 24-17.