Walk-on Tarale Murry overcomes adversity as mentor for his young team

Garrett Callahan

Tarale Murry thought he gave up a dream to come to Texas.

Murry, a junior guard walk-on on the Longhorns’ basketball team, was a four-time varsity letter winner at Lehman High School in Kyle. He spent years building his skills, and, when he graduated, he had a partial scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania and a full scholarship to Washington University in St. Louis.

But with the recommendation of Pastor Billy Ray Johns of the Greater New Life Tabernacle, Murry attended UT to stay close to home.

“I actually cried when I made my decision to come here,” Murry said. “I wanted to make the right decision. I’m a man of faith, so I wanted to make the right choice, but I really wanted to go [to UPenn] cause of their programs, the prestige and [because] I could have played basketball there. I thought I had everything there. Here, I thought I’m not going to make the team. It’s Texas.”

But, three years into his time at UT and now a member of the team, his decision paid off. But it also proved helpful when tragedy struck at home.

Last fall, his stepfather suffered a stroke, which landed him in the hospital for a long period of time. Murry’s mother was left with the task of raising his many siblings, which is when Tarale Murry stepped in to help raise his brother and sisters while his stepfather recovered and his mother tended to him daily.

“He woke up to that and said, ‘If I had went away, I wouldn’t have been able to help my mom at all,’” said Johns, the pastor who has known Murry since he was 6 years old. “He took over and was there for those kids. He also went to school, ran errands for his mom and came back to the hospital to take care of his dad. He had to be a mentor to his siblings.”

Murry’s leadership has transferred to his time on the basketball team. As the oldest member on the squad, he has become a role model to the young team despite his limited playing time. While at home and on the road for games, Murry holds team meetings and helps guide his teammates in the right direction, propelling him as one of the most respected members of the team.

“He doesn’t get to play really a second of anything, but he’s still a great leader,” freshman guard Martez Walker said. “He’ll tell you what you need, he can preach and he could even be a starter if he had a chance to. We respect that of him cause we know that’s how Tarale is.”

Sophomore guard Demarcus Holland said he sees Murry as his helper and mentor.

“I look to him as a big brother,” Holland said. “He helps all of us, telling us what’s right and what’s wrong.”

Murry has played in just five games this season and has yet to record a basket. But, looking back, Murry, who is majoring in accounting, said he wouldn’t change one part of his choice to attend Texas.

“I really believe that because I made my decision to come here and followed my faith in God, He made this opportunity possible,” Murry said. “I’m blessed to be here. I wouldn’t change my decision.”

Correction: This article has been updated since its original posting. Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this story misstated the student-athlete's name. It is Tarale Murry.