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Trussville teen baseball star injured by falling tree, community gathers in prayer and support

Grayson Pope playing baseball (courtesy Kristal Kizer)
Grayson Pope playing baseball (courtesy Kristal Kizer)
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A Trussville teenager was seriously injured Tuesday when a tree fell on a golf cart he was riding on.

Grayson Pope is a rising junior at Hewitt-Trussville High School. He plays on the baseball team there and plays on a travel team with Excel Baseball Academy. Pope is already committed to playing baseball for the University of Tennessee.

Pope remains in the hospital at UAB. He underwent a surgery on Friday afternoon.

Prayer meetings have been held every day since Wednesday at the Trussville Mall, a park located near the tennis courts.

A friend, Ashton Gay, who just graduated, has been helping organize those prayer meetings. She is a friend of Pope and his older sister who she cheered with, and has become close with the entire family.

Through Fellowship of Christian Athletes, she started reaching out to athletes and coaches and the support for the Pope family has been tremendous, with a large turnout each day for those who have been gathering to pray.

"I'm just really heart broken over this and I am so glad we have so many people praying for Grayson," said Gay. "We will do it for as long as it takes. We want to see Grayson get better. Grayson is a fighter. We know he's going to keep pushing through so it's important for us to keep pushing through because it's going to be a long process of recovery."

Gay explained that there is a non-profit being started, which will help benefit others in the future. She said it speaks to the impact Grayson Pope has.

"Grayson is like a little brother, the Pope family will take anyone in. Knowing the Pope family, they make you feel like you're family. They welcome you. Love from them cannot be described," said Gay.

Gay went to the hospital and joined others to pray over him prior to his surgery Friday afternoon. She said the family is asking for prayers more than anything.

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Pope's Aunt, Regan Layne shared the following words with ABC 33/40:

We really want to community to know how amazing they are and how thankful we are for every snack, meal, comment, call, text, thought but especially prayer. Grayson’s such a wonderful kid, friend and athlete. He’s so generous and he is so kind. He always reassures those around him with “God’s got this” and while we cannot begin to understand God’s plan or how he will use Grayson through this tragedy, we know he’s in control and that he’s the ultimate healer. We just ask for the community to continue praying. Lift their arms high and pray for his brain and his body.

Jeff Mauldin, the baseball coach at Hewitt-Trussville High School, asked for everyone to continue praying and said 'anytime Grayson enters your mind, say a prayer for him.'

Matthew Maniscalco, the co-owner for Excel Baseball Academy, was at the hospital Friday. He has known Pope since he was about 12 or 13, from him playing on their travel team.

"He's always been a light and one of those guys who had a smile on his face and played the game the right way and did things the right way and loved the game so much, it really helped all of our other players," explained Maniscalco. "Grayson, we know him. He's going to be a fighter, he's going to beat this, fight this and have a smile on his face at the end."

Maniscalco, along with Excel staff member Judd Edwards, explained how the family's strength has also been admirable throughout this entire situation.

"The response and the outpouring of support from people all over the state of Alabama and southeast area has been incredible and I keep telling his family, it's not really a surprise because your son is so impactful to everyone he comes in contact with."

"Impact is the word that comes to mind. When he shows up, he impacts the room he walks into it," said Edwards. "He’s an easy kid to love."

City Councilman Alan Taylor said Pope is a great baseball player and a great young man. He said at Thursday night's little league park, all the teams wore gray ribbons to show their support.

"Our community is rallying around the family and constant prayer vigils for him, just praying for him every day," said Taylor. "This is a tight knit community, our schools, everybody, it's just close knit community so when something like this happens, it's what being part of a good community is about. They come together, they support each other, they pray for each other, they help each other and I think that helps going all the way to UAB hospital right now."

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A Facebook group 'Prayers for Grayson Pope #Pray4Gray' was started where updates are given and people have been praying and showing their support.

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