Akili Gray, who spent most of his riding career on the Texas circuit, died April 15 at age 30. Last July, Gray sustained serious injuries in a spill at the Gillespie County Fairgrounds when his mount fell after clipping heels in a 5 ½-furlong maiden race. The rider underwent brain surgery for an aneurysm and later was transferred to a rehabilitation center in Austin, where he had shown signs of progress. By the end of last summer, he was breathing on his own and had started to respond to verbal commands.
'He had come home for a while and then ended up back in the hospital,” said his brother Arthur Gray III. “During the past month he was having serious medical problems and conditions, and he was on life support.'
Originally from Los Angeles, Gray started his riding career in Florida in 2001 and then moved his tack to Texas, where he rode at all five of the state's tracks.
'He just loved Texas so much,' said his brother, who like Akili is an athelete and holds the handcycling world record in the 10K. 'He called it home. He kind of reminded me of the country singer Buck Owens. I live in Bakersfield, California, and Buck Owens called Bakersfield his home even though he wasn't from there and that's the way my brother felt about Texas.'
'I can tell you that I'm not taking it as hard as a brother normally would because I know that my brother died doing what he loved to do,' he added. 'My father used to work with horses and train horses so he grew into it. My father's passion was horses, so his passion was horses.'
According to equineline.com, Gray won 16 Thoroughbred races and $187, 384 in purses. He also rode Quarter Horses.
Gray's survivors include his wife and two children. He will be buried at Inglewood Cemetery in California at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 22.
Thanks to the Texas Thoroughbred Association for providing information about Akili.
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