Crowdfunding campaign launched to help former Detroit boxing champ Ray Gray after 48 years in prison


A newly freed Ray Gray in Detroit. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • A newly freed Ray Gray in Detroit.

On May 25, Ray Gray — a former Golden Gloves boxing champ and artist from Detroit who was the subject of a 2020 Metro Times cover story after being incarcerated for nearly 50 years for a crime he maintains he did not commit — was released from a state prison in Muskegon.

The state of Michigan is supposed to pay the wrongfully incarcerated $50,000 for every year behind bars. However, according to The Detroit News, the state doesn't have enough money in its exoneration fund. Plus, to walk free, Gray was forced to plead no contest to a second-degree murder charge, reduced from his first-degree murder conviction.

"I feel like I'm making a deal with the devil," Gray previously told Metro Times. "But right now my main concern is being free — most of my life I've been locked up."

Gray's sister Phyllis Long has since launched a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $50,000 to help Gray pay legal fees, make ends meet, and adjust to life outside of prison.

"The state dodged a bullet by not having to shell out $2.4 million in wrongful conviction compensation," Humanity for Prisoners founder Doug Tjapkes told Metro Times. "I'm so happy for Ray and Barbe," he added, referring to his wife Barbara Rinehart-Gray, a former prison art instructor, "but it's a bittersweet victory. Not even an apology."

In 1973, Gray, then 21, was convicted in the shooting death of 23-year-old Army veteran Reuben Bryant during the robbery of a Euclid Street apartment on Detroit's west side. Gray and his supporters maintained that only "unreliable eyewitness identification" linked him to the crime.

Stay connected with Detroit Metro Times. Subscribe to our newsletters, and follow us on Google News, Apple News, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Reddit.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.