August 6, 2010...9:51 am

Flint basketball community loses one of its own

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Willis “Ray” Arrington, a junior forward at Flint Northwestern this past season, lost his life on Wednesday night in Flint. Arrington was among Northwestern’s young core of talented players eying a run at a class A state title this upcoming season.

As fate would have it, Arrington’s last game as a Wildcat was his best: 18 points and nine rebounds in the regionals versus Mt. Pleasant.

All the details surrounding his death have not yet been released. Suffice it to say, Ray lost his life and it’s tragic. Too many young men are leaving this city before they’ve really had the opportunity to live.

For those of you who knew him, please help my friend Patrick tell his story. Regardless of how or why it happened, the Flint basketball community suffered a great loss in Willis Arrington. One of the best ways to cope with the tragedy of a life lost too soon is to talk about the good things Ray meant to you. If there are coaches, teammates, opponents and friends out there who would like to share their favorite memory of Ray for a memorial column about him in the Flint Journal, please e-mail them to [email protected] or inbox Patrick on Facebook by Sunday afternoon.


  • I played with and against Ray for about three years and he was one of the most passionate kids about the game you could ever come upon. This really hits me hard and I know that he is up there with the Big Guy now. My thoughts and concerns for his family, friends, teammates, coaches, and teachers. I really hope Flint Northwestern can rebound from this and produce a state championship because they deserve it more than anything now and have a motivational factor to push them even harder. I wish the entire Arrington family well and that they can get through this.

    R.I.P. Willis “Ray” Arrington

  • Mike Williams (Beecher)

    Ray called me “Pops” everytime we spoke. I’ve taught at NW the past @ 2 yrs and Ray and I had a very close relationship. We all must be accountable for the lives of our children. I love Ray like my own son. I dont know how to make sense of this senseless loss. “Life is a reflection of basketball, one bad decision and the game is over.” Basketball means nothing. Our kids are the world. Take time to love them.

    • I did not know it, but it’s sad when any kid trying to do the right thing dies young.

      My condolences to everyone who knew him.

    • Marcellus Miller

      I keep wondering if there was something else I could have personally said to him or done to make a difference. To all the young people out there…don’t let Ray’s death be in vain. Learn from every aspect of his life so that is how his spirit will carry on here now that he is physically gone.

  • Marcellus, I have learned over time, that the best you can give is everything you have. You do that with the work you do here, at Northern, on the streets, in the gym, in your writing, on your blog.

    I have lost count of how many young men I have taught that I have lost to jail, the streets or the casket. It is bigger than us and the only leverage we have is give what we can, be the best humans possible and take every opportunity we can to be an example of success. Ray was a nice young man that made a terrible decision. We have to offer more than the streets. And that my friend, is one tall order.

    • Marcellus Miller

      Thank you Kelly…you are right that there has to be a real alternative that we can give these young people. I believe that one of the most important values to teach is a true knowledge of oneself, that is, who you really are. Not just what you do, but really finding a true definition of yourself. If they can find that at an early age it will negate the need to go to the streets or elsewhere to “find mysef” or anything like that. It will dramatically reduce the amount of influence that peer pressure may have as well, because they will know beyond all doubt what they will and will not accept for themselves.

      • It’s time for adults in this community to do what so many in their grandparents’ generation did: Live right, respect life and love your neighbor as yourself. It sickens me to my core to see so many so-called adults set such a poor example for their children.

        The glorification of drugs, sex and violence in our inner cities has to stop; and it’s going to take people who are adults because of their maturity, understanding and experience, not simply their age, to fix it.

        I try to tell young people all the time to have an opinion about what’s going on around them. An opinion, in part, is a value judgment. A culture is little more than the collective representations of what people value. What do you value? If you don’t value life, and the things that makes us better as a society, what do you expect the outcome to be?

  • Jared,

    I had a parent teacher conference with a woman in a bath robe and slippers in the parking lot of a school this year.

    I had another parent who I tried numerous times to get a hold of when her son was failing my class. To no avail, she never returned one of my calls. One day, he got into a fight in my class and his coat was left in my room. In his coat was a bag of weed. Promptly at 2:13, she was at my room demanding his coat back. Had something of hers in it. I told her to go talk to our liason officer. She might be able to retrieve her things from him. You know she had the nerve to try?

    We got a long way to go, my friend.

  • it a shame to die so young i knew i use to play ball with him and his younger bro at this church. Its a real shame for someone so young to die. rip Ray

  • i still cant believe to this day that my boy ray has passed away. am privalage to have known ray for the passed 31/2 years. we started to become good friends over time and as far as basketball goes,he’s the reason why i am as good as i am now because he pushed me to go hard and keep workin. he was like the big brother i always wanted and i’ll never forget him as long i live

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