Jason Kendall Ray, 21, died Monday morning at Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center. Ray, a senior at the University of North Carolina, was a member of UNC’s cheerleading squad and was injured in a pedestrian/vehicle accident in Fort Lee, N.J., on Friday, March 23. He was pronounced dead by doctors at 8:38 a.m.
Ray was in New Jersey to perform as the Tar Heelsâ€™ mascot, Rameses, in the NCAA Menâ€™s Basketball East Regional in East Rutherford, N.J., on Friday and Sunday. Dozens of family and friends gathered at the hospitalâ€™s Surgical Intensive Care Unit since the accident.
â€Our family would like to thank the staff at Hackensack University Medical Center for the compassionate and professional care they provided,â€ says Jasonâ€™s brother, Allen, speaking on behalf of the family. â€œThey made this terrible experience as tolerable as possible and gave solace to our family. â€œWe would also like to thank the UNC athletic department. Jason was a member of their family and they extended their support to us and provided support to our family as we have dealt with this terrible loss.
â€œJason was a wonderful son, brother and friend. He leaves behind a legacy of friendship, laughter, excitement for life and a genuine love for all the people he touched during his all-too-short life.â€
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Jason Kendall Ray Memorial Fund, Concord Christian Church, 3101 Davidson Highway, Concord, NC 28027.
â€Jason believed in organ donation and in the sharing of the gift of life,â€ Allen Ray says. â€œHis organs will be donated to the Sharing Network of New Jersey. We hope that Jasonâ€™s gift will be able to help up to 50 people in critical need of transplant.â€
â€œThis is a devastating loss to the Ray family and our University community,â€ says Director of Athletics Dick Baddour. â€œJason had many talents. Over the last several days, we have heard from so many people who said Jason went above the call of duty to brighten their days and make their child smile and laugh. He may have performed in the anonymity that comes with playing the mascot, but his life has had an overt and lasting impact on the people whose lives he touched. Our hearts and prayers again go out to his family and friends in this time of extraordinary grief.â€
Jason was majoring in business administration with a concentration in marketing at UNCâ€™s Kenan-Flagler Business School and was working toward a minor in religious studies. He had played the Ram mascot for the past three seasons.
â€œJason gave Rameses an energy that was unique,â€ says UNC cheerleading coach Brown Walters. â€œHe embodied all of the qualities you would want in a team member. He was a tremendous ambassador of the University of North Carolina and that spirit will live on forever. The Carolina Spirit Program has lost a member of our family and he will be deeply missed.â€ “The loss of Jason Ray will be felt by all of us who love and care about Carolina,â€ says Chancellor James Moeser. â€œHis legacy will be one of caring and joy, of hard work and enthusiasm for life. Susan and I join his friends, classmates, teammates and instructors, people across the campus and far beyond Chapel Hill in wishing his family comfort during this time of profound loss.”
â€œMy heart goes out to Jasonâ€™s family,â€ says Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams. â€œHe was an engaging young man and a friend to a number of our players and managers. They tell me he was a wonderful person. Obviously our team is disappointed with the outcome of Sundayâ€™s game, but that pales greatly in comparison with the loss the Ray family is dealing with today. We ask everyone to remember Jason and his family in their prayers.â€