Former Hightower High School football player dies after being injured in college game

By Aaron Barker - Senior Web Editor, Lea Wilson - Digital News Editor, Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter

HOUSTON - A former football player at Hightower High School in Missouri City died Tuesday after being seriously injured during a Midwestern State University football game last weekend.

Robert Grays, who played cornerback for the university, suffered a neck injury while making a tackle during the team’s game Saturday against Texas A&M – Kingsville in Wichita Falls, according to Trey Reed, spokesman for the university's athletics department. He said Grays was hospitalized in Houston after the injury.

MSU announced the injury on Twitter Sunday.

The MSU Mustangs offered condolences on Twitter along with a statement that said in part:

"Today we mourn the loss of one of our own. Robert Grays died yesterday from critical injuries suffered in Saturday's game."

The statement went on to say, "Robert touched many lives while attending the university, but perhaps he will be remembered best for his smile. He was an inspiration on and off the field to those around him..."

WATCH: Midwestern State University coach Bill Maskill speaks about death of former Hightower HS player

According to the college’s online roster, Grays played cornerback at Hightower High School, helping lift the Hurricanes to a perfect 10-0 regular season in 2015.

"Robert was one of the most popular players on the team. (He) had a lot of energy. He was always smiling and dancing. He knew when to lock in and cut out the silliness. He was positive and had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm," said MSU Head Football Coach Bill Maskill. "Robert did what he was supposed to do. Zero disclipline problems. He was fun to be around. Just an overall great players and always had a smile on his face."

Maskill said the team took the news very hard. The team had a meeting late Tuesday night.

"They're hurting ... they're trying to get through it ... tragedy hit us Saturday night," said Maskill.

At the time of Grays' passing, Maskill said there was a rainbow over the practice field.

"We showed it to the team ... We just want to honor him," said Maskill.

Grays' absence was felt at his former high school. The Hightower community and Grays' pastor held a vigil in Grays' honor outside the school's field house. There, Grays' pastor greeted the crowd.

Mothers of Grays' old high school players came from all over the country to mourn.

"We are all so close ... Everyone grew up together. We all know each other. It's hard," said Nicole Hollins whose son played with Grays.

At the vigil, green and white balloons were released in Grays honor.

Grays visitation is open to the public. The viewing will be 10 a.m. at the Word of Restoration International Church. Funeral services will start at 11 a.m.

MSU is planning a memorial service.

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