Vandegrfit Viper's off-season victory

Jayelen Gray's return to football

Junior Vandegrift Viper defensive lineman Jayelen Gray's 2015 season ended in the second week, but it wasn't to an injury.

Jayelen had a lump on his right hand which never disappeared.

"We thought it was a sprained wrist." Vandegrift head football coach, Drew Sanders said. "The swelling wouldn't go away."

Gray and his guardians, (aunt & uncle) Nicole and Barry Gray, visited Dr. Matthew Crawford and Dr. Ronald Williams. Their diagnosis: cancer. A rare form of cancer called Epithelioid Sarcoma, a soft tissue cancer.

According to Nicole Gray, Jayelen's aunt, "by the time we had it examined, it was stage three."

Jayelen was concerned at first, but took the initiative to address his Vandegrift team about it.

"My coaches and friends always said I could go through anything," Jayelen said.

Jayelen's positive attitude inspired both his aunt and uncle. "Seeing his resilience was strengthening for us. He's been a bedrock of strength," Barry Gray said.

The Grays assembled a team of physicians they spoke highly and praised constantly,

Crawford discovered the abnormal cells and Williams diagnosed the exact form of cancer. Oncologist Dr. Steve Brown performed the radiation treatments and Dr. Robert Whitfield performed more than 15 hours of surgery on Jayelen, including a 10-hour procedure to remove the tumor and reconstruct the wrist.

According to Vandegrift Head Coach Drew Sanders, that procedure was risky. "It required 10 hours and the news was terrible. There was no blood flow."

That's when the Vandegrift community and schools in the Leander ISD included Jayelen in a prayer chain.

The very next morning, prayers were answered.

"Low and behold the next day the doctor opens it up and there's full blood flow," Sanders said.

After completing radiation treatments, Jeyelen was determined to get back onto the football field for the Vipers. It happened last week against Odessa Permian.

"That moment was probably the best moment of my life," Jayelen said.

A moment celebrated by Vandegrift community.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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