Saturday afternoon thousands of graduates accepted their diplomas at East Tennessee State University’s Commencement Ceremony.
To one family, these graduates accomplishments mean more than just the next chapter.
Raymond Cox, a senior at ETSU, was killed on March 5th, 2019 in a DUI-related crash on Interstate 26 only months away from his graduation.
According to officials at the Johnson City Police Department, Cox, the driver of a 1997 Honda Civic, was struck from behind by a Ford F-150 driven by 29-year-old William Lawson of Kingsport.
Ray’s family accepted his diploma for him on Saturday. His sister, Renee Graves walked across the stage while his family watched from the stands with tears in their eyes.
“We needed to be here for Ray. I sit at work thinking of well, you know, he’s going to finish school, he’s going to have kids, he’s going to get married and have kids, and all of that is out the window. To me it’s not fair to him. It takes time to heal, but he left such a great impression on all of us. Ray did this. He did all of it,” said Graves grasping Rays diploma.
“Some people say, ‘Oh how can you still have a smile on your face, its just been two months.’ We’re blesses you know,” Graves said.
All four of Rays siblings were in attendance for the graduation along with his parents and other family members.
“That was hard ’cause ray should be here. Ray went through so much and achieved so much in such a little time. I was really excited to hear everybody cheering for him because he deserves it,” said his older sister Hope Cox.
Hope said that Ray was the baby of the family and made his way through college by working three jobs while attending classes.Ray’s family was happy for the new class of graduates, but had a message they hope to share with everyone.
“Congratulations to the Buccaneers and the Class of 2019. We just ask people to designate a driver. Just don’t drink and drive,” said Hope.
Ray’s birthday was April 30th and he would have been 22 for his graduation.