HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — “I love them. I really do,” Booker T. Washington boys basketball coach Vincent Grayson said. He works to prove that to his players daily. No matter what they need, Coach Grayson is always there.
“It’s hard finding coaches like him. That loves us, that loves his players. And would do anything for his players. Without him in the program, I don’t know,” guard Andre Walker II said.
Poised for another deep playoff run, the Eagles don’t know everything about Grayson’s family history, but their lives are better because of a rich family legacy.
Boyce Eugene Grayson Sr. was the first Black alderman in Tupelo, Mississippi, a distinguished leader in a time when a Black man’s pride made him a target.
He raised his sons with a guiding light. When someone is in need, you can’t say no.
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Coach Grayson worked on composing himself when ABC13’s Greg Bailey asked about the greatest gift his father had given him and his brothers.
“He showed us how to be a man. Stand up for what’s right. Be fair,” he said of his father.
Grayson tells Eyewitness News that in the 1970s, a Black man was arrested by police in Tupelo and beaten badly while in custody. “I remember going down to the jailhouse, and the guy’s head was like a basketball. They had beat him up so bad. And they said they weren’t going to fire the policemen who did it,” Grayson said.
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Grayson Sr. organized a march in protest and was met by the Ku Klux Klan. Brandishing hatred, they called for the alderman in Ward 4.
“We’d see little holes in our windows, and dad would say they were from rocks. They weren’t from no rocks. People (were) shooting at our house, ” Vincent said.
Boyce Grayson stood his ground and continued to work for the people he represented. His strength may have been born during a frontline combat tour in the Korean War. Or, more likely, it was something found deep in his soul.
His sons routinely met strangers in the kitchen of their family home. People who didn’t have anywhere else to go for a meal knew where they could find help.
“A lot of people say he was the cornerstone of that town. To me and my brothers, he was just our dad. To everybody else, he was like Mount Rushmore. They really believed in him,” Vincent said.
They still do. Years after his father died, his legacy lives in Tupelo and at Booker T. Washington High School.
Coach Grayson can still hear the long line of mourners who packed their church to honor his father,
“My lights was off. Your dad came and got our lights on. My family needed food. Your daddy brought us food. My family didn’t have a car. Your daddy went and bought a cash car for us,” he said.
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