Gray Twins Named October CalHOPE Courage Award Honorees
BERKELEY – California women's soccer student-athletes Anysa and Amaya Gray have been named honorees of the CalHOPE Courage Award for the month of October. This is the first time the monthly award has been presented to a student-athlete at Cal since its inception in January.
The CalHOPE Courage Award, sponsored by CoSIDA in association with The Associated Press and CalHope, recognizes student-athletes who have shown great courage in the face of personal hardships and adversity. A nomination is presented to two student-athletes at California colleges each month. At the end of the academic year, two of the monthly honorees will be selected as CalHOPE Courage Award winners, and a $5,000 donation will be made in their names to mental health services at their schools.
The Gray twins faced a tumultuous upbringing – experiencing homelessness and difficult family circumstances – prior to their arrival at Cal. They slept on the floors and couches of relatives and worked in the cafeteria at their school, Woodside Priory High School, before classes in order to get meals each day.
"We have more control over our lives now," Amaya said. "I wouldn't wish our childhood on anybody."
The twins overcame the obstacles life threw at them, working hard to excel both in the classroom and on the soccer pitch. Beating all odds, the Gray twins made a home at Cal on the women's soccer team.
"I feel like it sometimes doesn't matter where you come from – I can get anywhere I want to," Anysa said. "Whether or not I had two parents, whether or not I came from the hood, it's not going to define me completely. I can do whatever I want if I put my mind to it. This award really recognizes that we are capable of a lot."
Upon their arrival at Cal in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world, including the only consistent outlet in the twins' lives – soccer. With the support they received from teammates, friends and counseling services, Amaya and Anysa continued to persevere through the challenges of a global shutdown.
Since the return of soccer in 2021, the Gray twins have battled injuries and balanced working multiple jobs all while staying committed to the rigorous academic and athletic schedules at Cal. This year, the Gray sisters also earned scholarships to aid them in pursuing their academics at Cal, something they say takes a weight off their shoulders so they can afford to spend more time focused on their schoolwork and future careers.
Amaya and Anysa Gray continue to be the faces of courage each and every day as they navigate the challenges of being student-athletes and supporting themselves. They seek to inspire young girls from their hometown of East Palo Alto and others in the community, and hope to show them that they too can be resilient and overcome hardships.
"There's always going to be haters, there's always going to be people who try and tell you that you don't belong – but if you believe in yourself, and hold onto your family, God and your friends, then you can go anywhere." Anysa said.
Follow this link to find out more about the CalHOPE Courage Award.