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October 24, 2013

ESPN's Dwayne Bray back at alma mater

By Doug Vehovec

Drinko Hall had a palpable buzz of excitement Oct. 20 as faculty, students and others assembled with pride to welcome alumni Dwayne Bray, BA ’88 and senior coordinating producer for ESPN.

Dwayne Bray speaks to a packed house in Drinko Hall

The same pride displayed by the audience was mirrored by Bray, a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist and East Cleveland native. He began his speech by introducing his greatest asset – his family, represented by his wife and son and his grandmother, the glue that holds it all together.

Bray cites his education and experiences at Cleveland State as the fuel that kept him moving forward. Like so many Cleveland State students, Bray juggled a lot during his time at school. But because of tough professors who consistently challenged him to improve his journalistic skills, he kept reaching higher – by digging in and finding the stories beneath the stories. His work tells what is really happening in the world, and aims not just to provide news but use it to make things better.

For all his success, including his position with the company responsible for more than 50 percent of the Walt Disney Company’s revenue, Bray remains humble and gracious.

“There’s nothing special about me,” Bray said. “Anyone in this room could be up here talking.”

Bray used the time not only to share his journey from Cleveland State to ESPN, but also to interact with the audience through a Q&A session as well as face-to-face greetings on stage afterwards.

Curiosity is the force that drives him most. He joked that while growing up on Brightwood Avenue he was more likely to pick up the Plain Dealer from the corner store than the 40 oz. beers his friends were.

“I would hang out with all the tough dudes and read the paper,” said Bray. By keeping a foot in those streets while he pursued his education, Bray was cognizant of the stories that were out there. They just needed an aggressive reporter to find them.

And even though his career has taken him across the country from one coast to the other, his love for his hometown and Cleveland State keeps him grounded.

“We’re tougher than everybody else,” said Bray of Cleveland State students with aspirations to follow their dreams to bigger cities. He noted that colleagues from perhaps more prestigious universities never look down on us, because of our reputation for hard work.

“We’ve got toughness, ideas and smarts – people respect that.”

Read interview with Dwayne Bray