To the Youth of Flint: Remember Ray

Patrick Hayes of the Flint Journal wrote a column about the recent death of Flint Northwestern basketball and football standout Willis “Ray” Arrington. A couple of things really stood out to me, and both come from coaches.

First, Flint Beecher head coach Mike Williams, who knew Ray well, didn’t really try to make sense of the death — it makes no sense, after all. He’s trying to find a way to save lives.

He told the Journal:

“There’s no justifying what he (Arrington) did or what happened,” Williams said. “You just can’t go around trying to take people’s stuff. That will get you killed. And if you don’t believe it, now you have a perfect example of a great kid who made one dumb decision and his life is gone.”

There’s a principle there: Actions are accompanied by reactions. The outcome of one terrible decision was the loss of a young life. A young man who could have been a college graduate in five years and starting an adult life of promise, is gone — and for what? Certainly not to steal bread. This was not about survival, but about an attitude that might is always right and that the life of your neighbor isn’t worth anything. Wielding a gun doesn’t make you a man, it makes you less of a man. Men use their hands and their minds to achieve things that are truly worth achieving.

So what will you do with this life, this example? Follow the same path? Say nothing in the face of wrong when right is achievable? Do nothing to modify your life, to re-route the road you’re traveling down? If you’re prepared to do nothing, also then be prepared for the possibility of a similar outcome.

It wasn’t fate that took your friend away.

So do something, like my friend Marcellus Miller told the Journal:

“To the youth of Flint: Don’t let his death be in vain … but rather learn from his life. Take a lesson from it all and that is how his spirit can best carry on here.”

Don’t allow his death to simply be a tragedy. Let his example of the worst possible outcome of one bad decision be your guide to live right, love your neighbor and value what is truly good.