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October 24, 2013

Exclusive interview with ESPN’s Dwayne Bray

By Gabriel Hart

Dwayne Bray

Cleveland State alumnus Dwayne Bray, recently named one of the most influential minorities in cable television, is a senior coordinating producer for ESPN where he manages the investigative sports reporting team.

Bray grew up in East Cleveland, where he attended Shaw High School. Growing up in an environment where many of his peers were involved in illegal activities, he admits that he has more than defied the odds with his success, and he attributes part of that success right here to Cleveland State.

Bray graduated from the Cleveland State’s School of Communication in 1988. He was the sports editor of The Vindicator and chief editor of The Cauldron. Since then he has traveled the country, wrote a book called “The Gift”, received a Master’s Degree in journalism, and earned a top position at ESPN.

“More glass, more grass, more buildings,” Bray said as he observed the changes around campus. “We used to call it the concrete campus when I was here. Now it looks just as good as any other campus,” Bray said.

But with all the physical changes, Bray noticed one thing that stayed the same.
“The indomitable spirit seems to not have changed,” Bray said.

He linked this observation to what President Ronald Berkman said about the challenges that Cleveland State students face, in his speech at the reunion luncheon earlier in the day.

He expressed hope that one day Cleveland State wouldn’t be known as a school for non-traditional students and those working two or three jobs at a time.
However, the fact that Cleveland State students juggle work and school is what Bray believes makes Clevelanders tougher than anyone else.

His favorite professor at Cleveland State was Dr. Leo Jeffres who is now professor emeritus in the School of Communication. He said Jeffres had one of the biggest influences on him and he served as a kind of outlet for Bray who he could go to when he just needed to vent.

Bray also attributes much of his success in life to sports. In fact he acknowledges that playing sports very well may be what saved his life and got him away from the ways of his neighborhood. Though Bray makes it perfectly clear that he will never forget where he came from, and he still keeps in touch with his old neighborhood friends from back in the day. Many of whom were in attendance at Bray’s keynote speech at the school of communication reunion.

Bray knew that sports’ reporting was for him from the very beginning. He played on the high school baseball team and made the varsity in the 10th grade. He took the initiative to write a sports story about the school team because he felt the only thing being covered at the time were the school’s football and basketball team.
As a result Bray wrote a story in his high school newspaper on the baseball team, only to find himself writing almost every sports story from there on out.

“I was 16-years old and I saw my name in that student paper at Shaw High School that said ‘by Dwayne Bray’ and I was hooked,” Bray said.

Dwayne Bray has been successful in his career, he and his team winning multiple awards for the boundless reporting and topics which they cover.

“Right now I feel like I run one of the most elite television sports enterprise investigative units in the world, and we’ve been going strong now for six years, ” Bray said.

“I get to read about sports, watch about sports, and work with some of the greatest reporters in the world every day, so if I look at things in a five year plan I’m fine where I’m at for the next five years.”

“Chance favors the prepared mind. It may sound cliché, but prepare your mind by working hard, not taking shortcuts, reading everything you can, and writing,” Bray said when asked what advice he had for students and upcoming journalists.

Dwayne Bray has proven that no one has to be a product of their environment, with hard work and dedication you can take the very essence of your environment and make it your best asset.