Nine surgeries and eight years later, Ray Jr. now has the possibility of sticking with an NFL team.
A source tells NFL on FOX that Ray will be given a tryout later this week at a Miami Dolphins rookie mini-camp.
Ray was diagnosed with bone cancer as a Chicago-area high school senior shortly after accepting a scholarship with Michigan State in 2007. After a recovery that took more than three years with multiple surgeries and setbacks, Ray finally took the field with the Spartans in 2011.
Seeking more playing time, Ray transferred to Division II Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.
Ray's inspirational story, which was chronicled by FOX Sports in March, drew the attention of NFL teams. Those squads also saw workout videos of Ray's Pro Day at Northwestern University and training sessions with long-time sports performance trainer Chip Smith on the internet.
As an undersized interior lineman by NFL standards, the 6-foot-2, 292-pound Ray remains a longshot to stick in the league. He also must earn a Dolphins contract with a strong showing at the rookie minicamp.
"First and foremost, I want to thank the Miami Dolphins organization for believing in me, and allowing me this opportunity," Ray told FOX Sports. "Words can't express how this feels to have this shot. I want to thank my agent Paul (Sheehy) and everyone who has supported and been in my corner.But just getting a chance to impress an NFL team is all Ray wanted.
"Since Day 1, I prayed for an opportunity like this and God blessed it to me. I'm just ecstatic for me and my family. I'm ready to work, prove my abilities on the football field and show everyone anything is possible."
Bone cancer is an uncommon cancer that begins in a bone. Bone cancer can begin in any bone in the body, but it most commonly affects the long bones that make up the arms and legs.
Several types of bone cancer exist. Some types of bone cancer occur primarily in children, while others affect mostly adults.
The term "bone cancer" doesn't include cancers that begin elsewhere in the body and spread (metastasize) to the bone. Instead, those cancers are named for where they began, such as breast cancer that has metastasized to the bone.