#PrepareAtPeace: Alum Christian Gray on Training NBA Athletes & Mentoring Young Leaders
As the year comes to a close, few people have been as busy in 2016 as WPU Alum Christian Gray.
Gray owns and operates D.I.V.E.R.S.E. (Dedicated Individuals who Value Education, Relationships, Success, and Effort) LLC – a nonprofit organization that uses basketball as a means of developing leadership skills and ethical decision-making among minority youth. He’s worked with kids, teenagers, and even current NBA players from all over the region and world helping them with their skills on and off the court. This past year alone, Gray has hosted basketball and motivational camps in the Triangle area and the Bahamas, and even helped train current NBA players Brice Johnson (UNC, Los Angeles Clippers) and Anthony “Cat” Barber (NC State, Philadelphia 76’ers), as well as college stars Dennis Smith Jr. (NC State) and Isaiah Miles (St. Joseph’s ’16).
“I was able to work with Brice Johnson, obviously who played at Carolina. I did his pre-draft stuff before he went to the [NBA] draft combine. For me, it’s about building a genuine relationship with these guys.”
“I was able to work with Brice Johnson, obviously who played at Carolina. I did his pre-draft stuff before he went to the [NBA] draft combine,” Gray said. “For me, it’s about building a genuine relationship with these guys. They’ve got a lot of people trying to ride their coattails. I just try to tell them to stay the course and trust the process. No matter how much skill you have, you can’t cheat the process. You have to keep pushing.”
You may ask – ‘How did this guy get to work with former ACC and Tobacco Road stars like Brice Johnson and Cat Barber?’
Christian is a go-getter; a motivator; a self-starter and a leader. He also served on the coaching staffs of North Carolina Central, Cardinal Gibbons High School, and Franklin Academy in Wake Forest, which doesn’t hurt your reputation in the basketball world. Gaining those connections through experience is something he took with him in expanding his own brand and nonprofit work.
“I was actually running the D.I.V.E.R.S.E. program at Peace during my senior year. I transitioned it over to the basketball player development side of things because I found that platform can really impact youth,” Gray said. “The purpose of all this is to develop young leaders. We do financial literacy, resume building, dinner etiquette, public speaking, and even ‘how-to-tie-a-tie’ sessions.”
Gray earned his BA in Psychology in 2014, was among the first male graduates at WPU, and was elected the first-ever “Mr. Peace.” A former basketball player for the Pacers, he has always relished the opportunity to lead others. He attributes a lot of that to – yes, basketball – but, also his time at WPU.
“As far as developing a professional network, Peace was probably the best thing to ever happen to me.”
“My time at Peace was meaningful. It was impactful,” Gray said. “It was far more beneficial being in a small setting because I got to develop a network. Being in the real world, it’s about who can pick up that phone and make a call for you. The importance of relationships is critical. I noticed that being here. The professors are tangible. As far as developing a professional network, Peace was probably the best thing to ever happen to me.
“The way the professors held me accountable here, made me understand accountability in the real world, and I hold my guys accountable now. Everything I learned here [at WPU] correlates with everything I’m doing now.”
Gray is working toward earning his master’s degree from NC State with a concentration in Youth Development and Leadership. He is expected to graduate in 2017.
For more information on D.I.V.E.R.S.E., visit www.traindiverse.com.
For more news and feature stories, search #PrepareAtPeace on social media, or visit www.peace.edu/news.