AMES, Iowa - A graduate of Gateway High School who was a standout on the football field and later went on to coach at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University died Wednesday morning.
"Curtis Bray was a dear friend to me and to all he ever came in contact with," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. "He was a trusted and loyal assistant coach who always put the kids and the team in front of his work. He was as genuine in his approach to relationships, coaching and life as anyone I have ever been associated with. We will miss him dearly."
Bray grew up in Monroeville, Pa. and became the first defensive player to be honored as the Gatorade national player of the year for Gateway High in 1987.
Bray graduated from Pitt in 1992 after a stellar career as a linebacker for the Panthers. He also coached at Duquesne, Western Kentucky and Villanova and later worked with Rhoads at Pittsburgh, where Bray spent seven seasons.
Bray was the linebackers coach when Rhoads was Pitt's defensive coordinator. Bray followed Rhoads to Ames when he was named Iowa State's head coach in 2009 after working on the staff at Temple.
"Curtis made indelible contributions as both a player and assistant coach at Pitt. His competitive nature on the field was only surpassed by his kind and gentle demeanor off of it ," the University of Pittsburgh athletic department said in a statement. "Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and many loved ones. While Curtis will be greatly missed, he will not be forgotten by the many people he touched at Pitt."
Bray spent the past five seasons working at Iowa State and was known for his work with the defensive ends. The Cyclones reached three bowls games during Bray's time on the staff.
"He was so much fun to be around," Iowa State defensive end Cory Morrissey said. "He could joke around with you and make a tense situation better with his personality. I am really going to remember the way he coached me and the way he coached my position group. I really didn't know the defensive end position very well coming into Iowa State. I credit everything to coach Bray and his coaching skills."
Bray is survived by his wife, Heather, a daughter, Sydney, and a son, Colden Charles.
Curtis Bray, 43, died this morning. Bray was a former standout performer at Gateway High School, winning the Gatorade Player of the Year award in 1988. He went on to play at Pitt, and after his time at college, he went on to coach at Duquesne and Pittsburgh before landing at Iowa State in 2009. His cause of death is under investigation.
The University of Pittsburgh issued a statement saying,
“The Pitt Football Family is shocked and saddened to hear of Curtis Bray’s untimely passing. Curtis made indelible contributions as both a player and assistant coach at Pitt. His competitive nature on the field was only surpassed by his kind and gentle demeanor off of it. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and many loved ones. While Curtis will be greatly missed, he will not be forgotten by the many people he touched at Pitt.”