Home Sports ‘He was an incredible person’: Coach of UW-Whitewater basketball star Derek Gray...

‘He was an incredible person’: Coach of UW-Whitewater basketball star Derek Gray who died suddenly shares memories


From our content partner, Channel 3000.

WHITEWATER, Wis. — Days after the sudden death of a UW-Whitewater men’s basketball player and Madison native Derek Gray, his team’s leader is remembering the player they lost.

“I love him,” said Pat Miller. “He’s a beautiful person.”

Miller has been coaching at UW- Whitewater for 30 years. This season will mark 22 years as the head coach of the department.

“He was an incredible person,” Miller said. “He was a player, I had a lot of long conversations (with) about life, basketball, family, and community. He was a very intelligent guy, very intuitive, and I really enjoyed his perspectives.”

RELATED: UW-Whitewater basketball player, La Follette HS grad dies unexpectedly

As a coach, Miller watched his dynamic with the other players throughout Gray’s time as a Warhawk.

“His teammates loved him,” Miller said. “He had a really unique ability to connect with all his teammates in different ways.”

Gray died unexpectedly Sunday, the university’s athletics department said Tuesday. The department tweeted Derek Gray died “playing the game he loved.”

Miller shared that Gray died at an event the team was holding on Sunday.

“It was horrible,” said Miller. “We have our overnight camp. At the end of our evening session, we get pizza for the campers and all our camp counselors play a game and play music, and it’s just kind of a fun thing. He collapsed during the game.”

Miller said the trainers reacted instantly, and first responders were called to help Gray.

“It was just a tragic and awful thing,” said Miller.

Gray, who went to La Follette High School in Madison, was a guard during the 2021-2022 season. He ranked second in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference during that season for steals, steals per game and total field goal attempts, according to his team biography.

“When I went and watched him in high school, I was actually going to see a different player, and he caught my eye,” Miller recalled. “Immediately, I called my assistant coaches and said, ‘Why aren’t we recruiting him, he’s by far the best player on the floor.’”

Gray had entered the transfer portal this past year. However, Miller said that he wanted to support Gray in his plans to play basketball elsewhere.

“He had big plans, big aspirations. And, you know, we were working with him to do everything possible to make those happen,” Miller said.

The university said Gray was a psychology major. The campus’ flag will fly at half-staff on Friday in his memory.

GoFundMe has been created to help Gray’s family pay for funeral costs.

20211029 Uw W Mens Basketball Vs Wisconsin Badgers 10

“What he meant to our program, what he meant to me, what he meant to his teammates, it’s obviously something we’re never going to replace,” Miller said.