Shane Ray’s sense of identity, family and history are all deeply connected to where he grew up: Kansas City. The community that loved and nurtured him, including extended family and the additional “moms” who helped Ray and his mother Sebrina Johnson when times were tough. The teammates, coaches, and members of his church who kept putting him back on the straight and narrow when other temptations and challenges threatened to derail him. This Kansas City community is where Ray’s pride and passion are rooted.
His love of the place runs so deep it is inked across his back, much to the delight of Chiefs fans, and at best, confusion from Broncos Country. Ray says his Chiefs tattoo is about his history, but his loyalties are clearly with the Broncos. He says he finds it funny how much fan and media attention he draws any time the Broncos/Chiefs rivalry is discussed
It’s really funny for me–every year before the Chiefs game they come up to me with Chiefs questions. I’ll try to explain it the best way that I can. Being from a city that loves their teams no matter what the record is: Chiefs fans love the Chiefs-die hard-and I was one of them. To be drafted to the rival, to be in the NFL drafted and playing for the Denver Broncos and loving what I do. Loving it, and loving the team that I am on. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. I don’t play for the Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City does not pay my bills, the Denver Broncos pay my bills and that is who my loyalty is to.
Ray’s success as a Bronco, however, simply intensifies the good natured rivalry between friends and family who remain committed to the Chiefs. This community of people he loves so dearly, find ways to cheer for him while ultimately hoping for the Broncos to fail.
My whole family, everyone I’ve know my whole life is a Chiefs fan. My best friends, so I don’t have a choice, but when they win to hear about it. And because I am a Bronco, my loyalty is to the Broncos. I love Kansas City, it is my home, I even have it tatted on me, but this is who I work for, so this is who I gave my life for…and it’s weird because they’ll say ‘Shane we want you to get three sacks, we want you to get a forced fumble. All of that looks good in a loss.’ They want me to achieve and the team to fail. That’s literally what I deal with, and it’s funny to me… I look forward to trying to beat the Chiefs every year because it gives me something to talk crap to my family about. It’s fun and I don’t take that part of it so seriously.
Ray’s cousin Ronnie, who lives with him and regularly wears a Chiefs jersey even while watching Ray play, is one of his favorite people to share friendly rivalry trash talk with. Ray is confident the Broncos will disappoint his cousin and all of Chiefs fans when the Broncos play them on October 30th.
It’s so funny. I get to talking with my cousin and I say ‘Ronnie I was a Chiefs fan for 10 years when we never got to a playoff game. I remember that pain (as a fan) so don’t come to me like I’m just a Bronco. I know what that pain of being a Chiefs fan. All of those high horses you are riding, they are just for now. I know how you really feel when they disappoint you (and they will later on this season).’ Yes they will.
Finally getting back to practice this week after tearing a ligament in his wrist during preseason in July, Ray is ready to return to the field and help his team. Watch a hungry Ray ready to dominate on Monday Night Football.
I just want to be the best me that I can be. I know when I get back on the field, whatever I do, expect nothing but excellence from me. So I’m going to give it everything I got and I know my best is good enough. I plan on giving it my all and taking advantage of my opportunities. I’m ready and I can’t wait.
While Shane Ray has a tremendously bright future in the NFL, where Von Miller himself has confidently stated Ray can successfully follow in DeMarcus Ware’s footsteps, Ray pauses to recognize this was not always clearly his where he would end up in life.
I promise you with all of the success I’ve had as an athlete, this did not look like this was going to be the path for me. No one thought ‘oh he’s going to play in the NFL.’ There were many nights where it was man ‘am I good enough, will a school make an offer for me. I don’t even know how to get into contact with schools.’ …I kept working, I had a great support system around me, a great team of people around me who not only understood me. Understood what I was trying to do and helped me, put the blinders on me whenever I would stray. They would put me back into focus…I had those people around me and it really impacted my life
This community of people, who supported and loved Ray not because they saw a future star, but because they wanted him to grow into a successful young man no matter what the field, are never far from his thoughts. These relationships drive him as he prepares for his first charity gala for his in Denver on November 6. Source: Shane Ray, a Man of Action, Dreams Big in his Work to Impact Youth
I have so many moms –my mom’s best friends. I probably got 10 moms helping with Rays Awareness… they all treated me like their own son as I was growing up in life. When my mom couldn’t pay for food, or we didn’t have a place to stay I had my moms that let us stay at their houses. I’ve got brothers who aren’t my real brothers…these people were all like family to me. My uncles, and my godfather who played a huge role in keeping me in church and giving me someone to talk to when I needed it. All these people and there’s no way they could have seen that I could be or do anything in the future—they just did this for the will in their heart for me to succeed as a human being—(not knowing I’d be a football star)
Ray will never lose sight that these people who touched his life also showed him the path to his ultimate success in the NFL. Fueled by a lot of anger in his youth because of the rough circumstances of facing financial instability, an absent father, and a challenging neighborhood environment, football became an outlet for that anger. But to take his talent and passion to the next level, Ray had to find ways to focus his energy on the positive.
…so I started getting an outlet to control myself and find ways to vent. I found out in life I’m very artistic… I started drawing and writing music and doing so many things trying to direct my attention. But anger, if you don’t have control of it, will just take control of your situation and who you are as a person. It always took a lot for me to understand as a young man the impact I was making not just on my life, but the people who were around me and how my actions were affecting those people as well. I had to start finding a different outlet, a different way to use my anger instead of using it negatively I started just started focusing it within the game but not outside of the game. Using the anger as energy and fuel to do what I do on the football field. Outside of the game now I’m completely calm. Knowing your optimal arousal—everyone has this level this zone where they play the best for them—me knowing where this is that I can’t get too high or can’t be too low I need to be right here this is the feeling where I need to be to go I definitely feel like this has been a growing point for me as a football player.
And while there are many moms in Shane Ray’s life, there is only one MOM, his mother Sebrina Johnson who tirelessly worked three jobs to keep Ray in private school in Kansas for high school. Who kept him focused on the end goal of using his talents to get a college education. Who has helped guide his charitable work for his community and children. Most players who attain the heights of professional sports are proud to buy their family cars or homes, but when asked what he’s been most proud of helping his mom with now that he’s a professional athlete, Ray’s answer was striking.
The best thing I’ve been able to do for my mom honestly is making her my business manager. Because she’s been my business manager, the people she’s been able to meet and deal with has expanded her role and her business ventures. She’s just booming! I mean when I know that people across the agent world are talking about my mom, and if you want to get to Shane Ray you’ve got to get through the pit bull, you’ve got to go through the mom. I mean my mother has 2 masters degrees she’s very very intelligent. My mom is business savvy and smart as hell….She drives the ship
As Shane Ray prepares to return to football, the political and cultural landscape have collided within the NFL. As the President, fans, players and owners struggle with what to make of all of the high emotions and vastly different opinions about the anthem protests, Ray has tremendous insight and wisdom to offer.
In the locker room you have teammates from different creeds, backgrounds and religions and not everyone agreed on kneeling and not everyone agrees on this or that, but you don’t see us belittling each other or fighting with each other. When Wolfe said what he said (Source: Derek Wolfe: Broncos DE questions player anthem protest | SI.com) and that came out and there were people coming out saying…he’s a racist and this and that…..this is what I could do–I could not even go talk to Wolfe and just make my own personal opinion…and just label him as a racist. That’s what other people normally decide to do, because it’s the easiest thing to do. Or, I could sit down with Wolfe and say hey why do you feel that way? Because me and Wolfe we’ve had conversations. We’ve sat down and had conversations about politics. My thoughts about Donald Trump, and his thoughts, and why we think these things. We are not going to agree on everything, but at least I can get an understanding. At least I can know why you feel that way, and you can know why I feel this way, and at least you can respect my answer and I can respect yours and we can move on as people. I don’t see how as a nation that is so overlooked–communication….so people need to stop taking the easy way and listen to each other.
Shane Ray is a man who dreams big while remaining grounded. Who loves football, but sees a larger platform and purpose for his life. Who will undoubtedly be exciting to watch on and off the field for years to come as he chases both professional success and personal philanthropic goals. For a man nicknamed for a majestic sea creature, it seems not even the sky is the limit for Shane Ray.