Wayne Gray knew. He says he knew the moment he was sentenced for breaking the sixth commandment that he had to walk the straight and narrow.
Gray was 22 years old. Now on the verge of turning 50, he speaks with a bit of ease about how he was reared a Baptist, how he lost his way in the 1980s, a time when Washington and other urban areas were being ravaged by drugs and violence, and how, now that he is out of prison, he tries to do the right thing.
“My mom is Baptist, and that’s how she raised us,” says Gray, who has two sisters and a younger brother. “She taught us that with God, while sometimes we had little to eat, we were always full. She reminded us it was a blessing to have that because no one could reach as far as God.”
Gray says he remembered that afterward.
He was imprisoned in 1982 on charges of first-degree murder while armed. He had killed someone he didn’t know. On this subject, words don’t come easily. He says matter-of-factly, however, that he was not alone when the killing occurred and he was high on marijuana.
He regrets that the consequences of his actions weighed heavily on his family.
Two of Gray’s girlfriends at the time were pregnant. One was three months along, and the other was two months. Another was the mother of his 2-year-old son. His brother has Down syndrome, and he knew he was an important link in the family care network.
Gray looks skyward as he searches for the broken links of his own youth.
His father didn’t live with the family.
“We moved around a lot.”
He looks up again.
“I went to Mott Elementary.”
“Kenilworth for a minute.”