Brown women’s incoming first-year Mya Murray joins stand against racial injustice amid college preparation

Mya Murray puts up a shot for her 1,000th career point last December in a non-section game for Uniontown at McKeesport. | Photo by Ed Thompson

It’s been quite a year for incoming Brown first-year Mya Murray.

The Uniontown Area High School graduate was named to the Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Team, tabbed as the player of the year by her local hometown newspaper, The Herald-Standard, represented her school as a scholar-athlete with a 4.25 GPA, finished second in her district in scoring and completed her high school career with 1,363 points and 1,028 rebounds in her four years playing for Uniontown.

Murray, who graduated on June 4, decided to head to Pittsburgh the day after donning her cap and gown in a socially distanced ceremony to march in a Black Lives Matter protest. Murray and many of her friends were aware of the potential dangers of the event but felt they had a responsibility to act in the face of social injustice.

“I just felt like this movement is really important to me, especially being a person of color,” Murray said. “I have had personal experiences that have shown me that things need to change. My mom has always tried to shelter me from how cruel the world could be, but I still experienced smart remarks and criticism my whole life.

“One instance was when my cousin and I were playing in the yard, and I was screaming and laughing, but someone called the cops on us. Three city cops showed up and questioned us harshly, especially my cousin, who is older than me. I also witnessed my dad get racially profiled by police on multiple occasions.”

The daughter of Philip Murray and Sally DiNunno admitted to being nervous prior to and during the entire demonstration but felt just as accomplished in comparing the march to anything she has done on the basketball court or in the classroom.

“We walked to the mayor’s house in Pittsburgh,” Murray said. “I was definitely nervous but felt good after. Prior to starting, they told us what to do if we were tear-gassed. That was a little unsettling thinking about that, but we all had the courage to go on.

“My mom was really nervous. She was texting me a lot to make sure I was OK. She was proud of me, but relieved when I told her we were coming home, and it was a very peaceful protest.”

Mya Murray (seated, center) receives a rose during a demonstration against racism honoring Breonna Taylor on what would have been her 27th birthday on June 5. Taylor, who was Black, was fatally shot eight times by officers who burst into her Louisville home using a no-knock warrant during a March 13 narcotics investigation. (Photo submitted by Mya Murray)

Murray’s graduation ceremony was anything but normal, as the school had to adjust due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but she hopes being able to attend the prom will be a consolation prize given the circumstances.

“I’m not going to lie, graduation was kind of disappointing,” Murray said. “The next day, the county went green, but it is what it is. I am really happy that we are going to have prom.”

Murray played volleyball in high school and was hoping to have a strong campaign in track & field. She planned to compete in the 100 and 300-meter hurdles on the track.

“I hadn’t competed in track since my freshman year because I played AAU for the Western Pennsylvania Bruins, but I was really looking forward to seeing what I could have done,” Murray said. “I will only compete in basketball at Brown, but I still wanted to do one last sport while I was in high school.”

Murray, who stands at 6-foot-2, was a forward at Uniontown but was informed during the recruiting process that she will be a guard in college.

“Being that I was told I would play as a guard in college, I knew that I had to work on my jump shot,” Murray said. “I still have a lot of work to do, but I felt like I did much better with my jumper this year. I was also very honored to be named to the All-State Team. I never imagined myself getting all-state.”

Murray, like most basketball players, wasn’t able to get on the court during the pandemic, but she knew she had to stay in shape once the gyms opened.

“I have been working out with my sister a lot and Brown sent me a summer conditioning program,” Murray said. “It was tough to not be able to go to gyms, but you have to do what you can.

“With the pandemic, we don’t have a report date of when we have to move into Brown. I haven’t heard anything yet. I haven’t even gotten a roommate. I guess all I can do is be patient. I am a kind of nervous we may have to start out school online.”

The Bears have a new coach this year in Monique LeBlanc, who replaced six-year head coach Sarah Behn.

“I was a little bit upset and surprised when I heard we had a new coach,” Murray said. “I really liked my old head coach, but I will say that coach LeBlanc has reached out to me.”

Murray has already accomplished a great deal in her young life but doesn’t plan to rest on her laurels.

“I got to experience something that is very important,” said Murray, referring to the Black Lives Matter movement. “I am glad I got to experience it.”

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