August 13, 2010...10:08 am

To the Youth of Flint: Remember Ray

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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 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.


  • Patrick, just wanted to say the article was great and i know that a lot of people will be touched by what you wrote and what other people were able to say. The tragedy that occurred hurts, but the memories pile up and seem to help fill the void that pain creates. Great article.

  • Marcellus Miller

    Patrick, very nice article on Ray man. You did a heck of a job with a very difficult topic. Also nice summary on GLH Jared. People will benefit from both. You know what strikes me? There is only 1 comment on this story on GLH right now! That is crazy, yet we get 75 topics arguing over who is D-1 and who is not. Man, this is the stuff that prompts me to thinking everyday since….I thought back to when I was a kid and an athlete named Dequan Bacon was found murdered in Flint. He was a true star in the making at Flint Central and Northern (transferred). My dad was a mentor to him and did everything for him that he could as the one father figure that he knew. It hurt him so bad that the recovery period was terribly long. But it made me want to be like my dad even more. It made me want to help stop those tragic moments from happening. It made we want to be a great example for those and I was just a young boy in elementary school. I was reminded of my dad asking me two years ago after coming to see us play Northwestern (ironically), “why do you do it (coach)?” I told him that I do it just for that one kid that may hear the message despite those who may ignore it. If I could impact one life positively, then all of the pain, headache, and trouble was all worth it. He looked at me…and it was one of those moments where you knew he was so proud. And he told me, “It takes a special person because I don’t know if I could do it again…” Again…that stuck with me. My dad coached an AAU team one summer but that was about all for coaching. But now I remember Quan and wonder if that’s what he really meant. So now I understand even more that no matter what the detractors say, and what kids don’t seem to listen, I have to press forward. Not just for me, not just for the boys, but for my dad as well.

    Thanks Pat, for helping remind me of another reason why true coaches do what they do. As John Wooden said, “Success is knowing that you have done your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

    • That was a good article you wrote concerning the young man from Northwestern High school, God has given a gift of expression with words. The answer to your question about me is yes. Remembering Dequan wasn’t the only one we lost to a bad decision or choice. Thanks for your superb choice of words in this article, and everyone else who spoke to Flint’s youth and adults alike.

    • THATS REAL….MUCH LUV!!!!!!!

    • George Miller Jr.


      I can still remember it like it was yesterday! That was one thing that affected me and still is forefront in my mind. Dequan was like a big brother to me. I was the little guy goin to the park with him and dad and only getting picked up because they made sure of it! I still remember the very moment when I found out he was gone and how they found them and the numbness I felt. This story brings it all back and I know there are many others feeling the same thing I did all those years ago… When will it stop?? When will we embrace one another and work together rather than try to take from one another? Detroit just had this happen to one of their own also… tragedy

      • It is a matter of everyone in the community realizing that the competition ends on the court. Off the court, we all have to be on the same team, showing through example and voice what leadership is all about.

  • It is definitely unfortunate about what happened to this young man. The tragedy is that with all the love being shown to him after his death, he still made the choice to try to rob an older man.

    That older man could have had a heart attack or been injured or killed had he not been armed.

    It’s never simple when life is lost over something stupid but, the challenge for the living is to figure out how to show this same love to prevent these young men from making these choices. Focus on clothes, cars and money generate many bad choices.

    In the end they are still choices. If this young man was not taught about better choices, it is truly tragic. The information here leads me to believe he was taught and CHOSE a different direction.

    Definitely learn from this and teach the youth about cause and affect; action and consequences; REAPING and SOWING.

    What do you glorify?

  • I agree all said, but ray was a leader nit a follower he did what he thoght was rite rite , but he didn’t deserve what happened to him enough is said from me!

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