Remembering Jason Ray and a friend: Tomorrow, the sky really will be Carolina blue – and the flowers will all be Terrapin red

There’s an old saying here in North Carolina, especially amongst Tarheel fans, that God’s favorite college basketball team must be Carolina because He painted the sky “Carolina blue.” As a Duke Blue Devil fan – Carolina’s biggest rivals – I, and other Duke fans, usually laugh it off everytime I hear it.

But not this week.

As you probably already heard by now, the UNC Tarheels mascot Rameses, whose real name was Jason Ray, died on Monday after head injuries he sustained after being hit by a man driving a Mercury Moutaineer in Fort Lee, NJ just hours before last Friday’s Carolina NCAA tourney game against USC. Jason was 21.

Who was Jason Ray?

At UNC-CH, he majored in business administration and pursued a minor in religious studies. He also was active in the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and played in a band for Thursday worship services.


He was the lead singer of 9PM Traffic, a rock band with some friends from back home that occasionally played on campus. He signed e-mails with phrases from current pop songs, closing with lines like “Bringing Sexy Back, Jason Ray.” He laughed hard, waiting until everyone else in the room finished their laughter to throw his head back and let out his own.


His strong personality could at first be a little intimidating, said Adam Miller, a UNC-CH sophomore who was in the Bible study group Ray and Humphries led. But Ray was willing to show vulnerability. He shared his doubts about his business major with his Bible study group and his fears that a 9-to-5 job might leave him feeling empty.

“He was very open with what he was struggling with,” said James Jolley, a UNC-CH senior. “He was able to share common struggles … to show that I was not alone.”

Ray was scheduled to graduate in May.

He was also an organ donor:

“Jason believed in organ donation and in the sharing of the gift of life” Allen Ray says. “His organs will be donated to the Sharing Network of New Jersey. We hope that Jason’s gift will be able to help up to 50 people in critical need of transplant.”

The viewing and visitation were held tonight at Concord First Assembly. I work in Concord, and this morning I passed by the street Jason used to live on, and noticed that many of the mailboxes had pale blue and white ribbons and bows on them in his memory.

If you live in the area, and would like to pay your respects tomorrow at his funeral, here are the funeral arrangments.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations instead be made tothe Jason Kendall Ray Memorial Fund, Concord Christian Church, 3101 Davidson Highway, Concord, NC 28027.

Jason, suiting up for a game.

Jason, hamming it up for the crowd.

Final Four mascots for both the men’s and women’s teams will wear armbands in memory of Jason for the remainder of their respective tournament games.

Rest in peace, Jason. I’m sure your spirit will live amongst Tarheel fans for years to come.


On a more personal note, I found out last night that a friend of mine (who I will call “L”) who lived in Maryland had passed away unexpectedly Monday night from acute liver failure. She had suffered from a form of leukemia, and the last she and I had talked over email, she was doing good, even though she hated taking the medication. It was a co-worker of hers who emailed me to tell me the news, as she had gone through some of L’s emails in an effort to make sure people she knew from the I’net would know what happened. L and I didn’t converse every day over email. In fact, we’d go weeks without an email to each other, so it’s not like I would worry if I hadn’t heard from her in a couple of days. I spoke with her co-worker last night, and then spoke to L’s mom a short time later. I couldn’t talk to her long, as I didn’t want to upset her when eventually I figured I’d start crying on the phone.

L was so young (40), and had so much life and love to give, which makes all of this especially tragic. She and I knew each other for about seven years, as we had a common bond of enjoying some of the same TV shows and theater dramas. As our friendship went on, I began to wonder if we’d ever meet, because I could never get up to Maryland and L was so busy there that it was hard to get a free minute to visit NC. But finally, we did get to meet, when she came to Charlotte, NC for some training related to her new UMUC job promotion within the last year.

She was so excited about her job promotion, too. We talked and laughed and had a great time while she was here. She also got to take a tour of my townhouse, which I had not yet been in a year when she saw it. I’m so glad she did get to see it, because she knew of my struggles in trying to land on my feet and be in a place I could call my own, and she was very happy for me. That was always how L was, concerned about the well being of others more than herself, even though in the last few years she started paying more attention to her own needs, as she should have.

We never know what God has in store for us, but when I am feeling pain from a loss – whether expected or unexpected – I try to console myself with the knowledge that God is great, and that God had a greater plan for L in heaven, than here on earth. And I bet she is there now, feeling great and smiling down on us all. Heaven now has another angel in L.

I dedicate this song to you, L. God speed. I will miss you.

Lyrics to “In The Arms of The Angel”
by Sarah McLachlan

Spend all your time waiting
For that second chance
For a break that would make it okay
Theres always one reason
To feel not good enough
And its hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
Oh beautiful release
Memory seeps from my veins
Let me be empty
And weightless and maybe
Ill find some peace tonight

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
Youre in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there

So tired of the straight line
And everywhere you turn
Theres vultures and thieves at your back
And the storm keeps on twisting
You keep on building the lie
That you make up for all that you lack
It dont make no difference
Escaping one last time
Its easier to believe in this sweet madness oh
This glorious sadness that brings me to my knees

In the arms of an angel
Fly away from here
From this dark cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie
Youre in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort there
Youre in the arms of the angel
May you find some comfort here

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