Busta’s Buddy of the Week: For CJ Ray, failure is not an option

Busta’s Buddy of the Week: For CJ Ray, failure is not an option
June 03
11:36 2021

By Busta Brown

Charles Ray, Jr. is a rising senior at The Point College Preparatory and Leadership Academy in Jamestown, N.C., where he’s also one of the star athletes. Charles Ray Jr., better known as CJ, was very open about trials and tribulations as a child. “I always got kicked off teams for fighting and I stayed in trouble in school and my neighborhood. I was heading down a very bad path. I knew I had to change or I would end up dead, because it’s serious in those streets. I thought I was grown, and didn’t listen when my parents tried to talk to me. I thought I knew it all, but my mother told me, ‘Grown is when you’re paying bills and you’re not paying any bills.’

“That’s why my favorite scripture is ‘Honor thy father and thy mother.’ When I begin to fall off, I think of that scripture and I straighten up. I’m not perfect, but I’m working hard to stay away from how I used to be and the friends that were out there with me,” shared CJ. 

During his time in public school, he was labeled ADHD and didn’t feel a connection with his teachers. That created a greater disconnect with his education. “I didn’t feel like the teachers understood me, and that messed with my self-esteem,” said CJ. It caused him to seek attention at any cost, and take his anger out on others. During an AAU football game, CJ experienced a bittersweet moment. “I got into a fight and got kicked out of the game. Coach Davis pulled me aside and we talked for a while. He suggested that I try The Point and I did,” said the rising senior. 

The Point College Preparatory and Leadership Academy’s students and staff are predominantly Black and it’s Black owned. When CJ and his parents accepted coach Davis’ suggestion, it was the beginning of an amazing journey. 

After losing his father and uncle, CJ began struggling mentally, which affected his academics. Before his father passed, they developed a strong bond. So, losing him was extremely hard on CJ. He went back to old habits, and hanging out with a rough crowd. “I felt like they were the only people that I could relate to and understood what I was going through,” he shared. 

Fortunately, his teachers at The Point College Prep became his extended family and CJ began to open up and share his true feelings. “I still have things I need to work on, but ever since I’ve been at The Point, my life has changed for the better. The teachers there really care about me. They taught me the importance of having a plan, so I have a plan now. When I told my mentor, Ms. Tucker, that I was going to be a running back in the NFL, she immediately shared the importance of getting good grades first, so that’s what I’m working on every day, because failure is not an option for me. 

“All of my life I was afraid of being embarrassed and was jealous of other kids doing better than me. Now, I realize losing or not being the best or most popular isn’t the end of the world. It’s just a challenge to work harder and become someone great. Nothing comes easy. I had to change my lifestyle because I don’t want people to see me as the bad guy anymore. I’m working hard to move past that part of my life,” said the Greensboro native. 

Although CJ was diagnosed with ADHD, it’s clear that his teachers love him beyond his ADHD label. When you meet CJ, he’s much more than a label. He has a big heart, he’s smart and has an amazing vision for his future. He credits his teachers and sister for developing into a phenomenal young man. He’s now one of the stars on his basketball and football teams, his grades are much better, several colleges have invited him to their basketball and football camps, and most importantly, he’s learned to control his temper. That’s what love can and will do. 

I asked CJ to share his thoughts on being a young Black male in America. “Honestly, I’m very fortunate to be alive, after all I’ve done in the streets. So now, I’m more focused on all the opportunities that I have access to, rather than all of the negativity.” 

As he was speaking, a fourth-grade boy walked into the room. CJ looked at the boy and then smiled. “If I focus on the negatives, I won’t be in a position to make the world better for kids like him that’s coming up after me. Success for youth today is just a click away. It’s all about what you’re looking for.  So when I’m on the internet, I’m looking for ways to be successful and stay successful. We carry around devices that give us access to see all the opportunities that are available to us. I want to be a role model for kids like him and teach him how to make technology work for him and not work to get technology. 

“I also realize as a Black male, we must have more than a plan A. If I don’t make it in the NFL, my plan B is to become a Zoologist or veterinarian. I love animals! Whatever you do, it should be something that makes you happy, because it’s more to life than just being rich, famous and successful.” 

Then he looked down, slowly resting his chin on his fist, looked at me with a serious expression, yet with a slight grin, and said, “Mr. Brown, it really is more to life than that. And to Black youth that’s my age out there in the streets, you really do have other options. We all deserve a better future. I know, because I’ve been there.” 

My Busta Buddy of the Week is Charles Ray Jr.,whose favorrite quote is: “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit, when there’s footprints on the moon.”

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