‘She was my go-to;’ Coach remembers late student-athlete being honored with mental health town hall

DAYTON — The University of Dayton is holding a town hall to bring awareness to mental health in young adults and to remember those who have died by suicide.

Nearly 2 million adults in Ohio struggle with a mental health condition, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness organization.

UD’s head basketball coach Anthony Grant lost his daughter Jay to suicide.

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News Center 7′s Taylor Robertson was on the UD track team with Jay before Jay chose to take a step back to focus on her mental health.

Robertson talked to Aaron Gordon, the associate head track and field coach at UD, who said the news of Jay’s passing brought him to tears.

“I just felt awful, you know, I was sick to my stomach thinking what could I have done?” Gordon said. “She was very upbeat. She was she was very talkative. She was so excited to be there. She’s always happy, loved talking basketball. She was my go-to.”

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Jayda Grant, who many knew as Jay, died by suicide back in 2022.

“I kind of noticed like slowly there were like personality changes and just changes in the way she was responding to text messages and then ultimately not responding at all. And just you know, I tried to keep her on the team…. tried to keep her active,” Gordon said.

When the call came from UD administration saying she had passed, Gordon was shocked.

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“Never saw it coming and that’s one of the craziest things about mental health is you never know who it’s going to be,” Gordon said.

Jay’s death led Gordon to start out each practice asking his athletes ‘How are you feeling?’

“Most of the time, you can see it in their eyes. You know, I try to keep you know really good eye contact, and also you can kind of see it because it just looks different. You know and a lot of the times they kind of pull away, they’ll be quiet, they are not themselves and they think you know that I don’t realize it but I do,” Gordon said.

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Gordon told Robertson that he often thinks back to if he saw the signs more clearly, how he would have had deeper conversations with Coach Anthony Grant, Jay’s dad.

“Could I have been better…could I have communicated better with him? And I think that’s the one thing that still sits in the bottom of my heart every day is like I should have communicated more with him on what I was experiencing with them,” Gordon said.

Robertson remembers her teammate for her kindness and willingness to show up to practice even on the hard days.

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