UW-Whitewater basketball player, La Follette HS grad dies unexpectedly

WHITEWATER, Wis. — A UW-Whitewater men’s basketball player and Madison native died unexpectedly Sunday, the university’s athletics department said Tuesday.

The department tweeted Derek Gray died “playing the game he loved.” Further details about his death were not immediately available.

Gray, who went to La Follette High School in Madison, was a guard during the 2021-2022 season. He ranked second in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference during that season for steals, steals per game and total field goal attempts, according to his team biography.

La Follette High School Assistant Principal Cullen Haskins issued a statement on behalf of the school’s leadership Wednesday afternoon.

“On behalf of Principal Mat Thomspon and all Lafollette High School Staff, it is with a profound sense of sadness that the La Follette community mourns the unexpected loss of former Lancer, Derek Gray. Derek was a giant of La Follette basketball and Lancer athletics, and was at his best in the toughest games and most challenging moments. He was a true “gamer”. His toughness and tenacity on the court will always be remembered, and his kindness and smile off the court forever missed. As a well known student-athlete and basketball standout, his presence and impact on the La Follette community was far-reaching. His life, both on and off the court, had an enormous impact on all those who knew him. As we process this tremendous loss for our community, we ask you to join us in keeping Derek’s friends, teammates, and family in our thoughts.”

The university said Gray was a psychology major.

The campus’ flag will fly at half-staff on Friday in his memory.