I Am Ray Ray McElrathbey. The Disney movie, Safety, was made based on my time as a Clemson football player. Ask me anything!
Hey Reddit! This is Ray Ray. I’m new to Reddit, but with the new Disney movie, Safety, based on my time at Clemson I thought some people may have questions.
I’m currently living in Atlanta and focused on running my foundation: [The Ray Ray Safety Net Foundation](www.RayRaySafetyNet.com)
Edit: I'm here! Let's gooooo. One more proof
Edit 2: I'll come back on later and answer any follow ups. This was fun. Go Tigers! FAMILY OVER EVERYTHING.
I had a lot of input in it from beginning to end. We had two writers on it, and I spoke with both of them at length. More to the second writer Randy M. We sat and ate lunch and chatted often.
Awesome! Glad to hear it. Are you happy with how they portrayed you and your story?
Yes I was happy with how I was portrayed and the actor that was picked to portray me. I was able to participate in that selection process as well.
Do you still pay attention to Clemson football?
Of course. It's family.
In the classified ad and the movie you state "I have only done this once before". Have you time traveled any more than those two times (any more since)? What was it like working with the DuPlass brothers?
I am an idiot, I was thinking of Safety Not Guaranteed. Your story is inspirational.
I don't think you're an idiot.
Fuk it, RayRay for President.
u/Hawkin253 is my running mate
Best player you ever went up against?
Devin Hester and Calvin Johnson
How was it working under the mouse?
The mouse is the mouse. While under the brand, you can't be touched. Overall it's been a wonderful experience. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd become a Disney prince. It's fun being Aladdin!
P.S. I'm told I'm supposed to say Happy Cake Day!
Were you at the Charlotte game that they filmed at?
How was the atmosphere at halftime for the filming?
Yes I was there. It was epic. So epic that I cried from the emotion.
How did you navigate position changes at Clemson? And what was your work with Dabo when you moved to offense/special teams?
I had always been an athlete coming up. Played QB, RB, and WR in high school so the transition wasn't as difficult as one might assume. I worked with Dabo on route running and catching the ball because at the time I was at Clemson he was the receivers coach.
Did you think Dabo was going to be head coach one day? What was your first memory of him?
Yes. My first memory of Dabo was when he came to my high school for a basketball game during the recruiting process, and actually knew what was going on. There's a hidden hooper in Dabo.
How does it feel to have a Disney movie based on your own story?
Bittersweet being that I couldn't give homage or credence to all the people that were a part of my life even before Clemson. And so while it's wonderful I do want to extend gratitude to the real individuals in my life as well as the ones portrayed in the movie.
Is there one thing about yourself that didn't make it into the script, but you want everyone to know about?
There's a lot more layers to who I am that I value that were not able to make the script. There were additional hardships I faced that weren't able to be shown in the movie that I think would've helped people overcome some of their life obstacles and to know that they're not alone.
Was it just you and your brother that had to scramble due to the situation with your mom or do you have other siblings that you had to care for/make sure were cared for?
As an aside, I’m a Clemson student right now and my mom has had a similar story to your mom’s. I loved the movie for the representation of how addiction can impact the kids of the addict (and for the Clemson family aspects, of course). Thanks and go Tigers!
I have 7 siblings. 3 that I helped raise. Me gaining custody of my other siblings happened after Clemson. I'm sorry about your situation, but you're not alone and I hope your mother is getting better. I wanted the movie to go more in depth in that storyline of overcoming addiction, but we were limited. In time I'll share more about that part of my life. Feel free to contact me or even join me in taking on these challenges.
Did your brother actually call out the RB shirt tug in the film room?
No he didn't point out the jersey tug, but due to him being at practice often the team felt it necessary to name a line check/audible to signify outside running plays based on alignment after him.
I have a weird thing for stadiums and atmospheres. Where did you play that you think had the craziest and most intimidating atmosphere (other than Clemson)?
Nothing beats Death Valley, but craziest may have been Florida State or South Carolina. I wouldn't use "intimidating" but grim Blacksburg at Va Tech feels like you were going into a black hole. Very dark. It's its own little world.
Hey Ray, just out of curiosity, what would you have done if the NCAA had rejected your waiver for help?
I would've had to leave Clemson. Family over football.
Zaxby’s or Bojangles?
Zaxby's unless it's something sweet. Nothing beats a Boberry biscuit. Also depends on your budget. Zaxby's can be a $plurge.
What's your favorite Clemson tradition?
Best restaurant on/near campus?
Favorite Clemson Tradition: Opportunity to touch the rock before the game, and to sing the alma mater after the game. Best Restaurant: Mac's Drive In and the Esso Club. Moe's Downtown Clemson has always looked out for me and my brother.
Drove past macs drive in the other day and it was closed with ivy growing all over. The way things go, but Such good memories
Macs is closed????
Let's work on getting it back open!
What’s the story as to how the movie came to life? Did you reach out to Disney with your story, or did it happen through some other way?
Through the producer. Gentleman named Mark Ciardi. He's done a few films with Disney and he bought the rights to the film while I was still in school and we also went through 3 other studios before landing at Disney.
How did you sell the rights to your story while in college without raising flags at the NCAA?
It was part of the waiver. I could make money, I just couldn't spend money. They understood that I had opportunities that were time sensitive that wasn't due to my athletic capabilities.
Where would you want Trevor to go?
Jax has the first pick, but I'd love to see him with the Bears. We unfortunately passed up on Watson, so it'd be a dream of mine for a Clemson qb to be the Bears qb.
Hello, one thing the movie didn’t touch on was your life immediately after that season. Did your brother transition back home and did you continue to play ball? Congratulations on the movie!
My brother continued living with me, and I continued played at Howard while pursuing my Masters degree.
Hi Ray Ray, I'm a big fan! My question for you is how did you and your younger brother react when Disney wanted to make a film about your experience?
I was at work when I found out that the movie was green lit to be made. I cried. When they came to me about wanting to purchase the rights I was indifferent. I had been doing various deals for a decade with no traction so it wasn't too exciting to me. I didn't even tell my brother at first.
Great movie. I love movies where the characters(s) face and overcome adversity.
What is your brother up to? I hope he realized what you went through...selflessly.
My brother is participating with me in our current endeavors while still trying to find his own way.
Two questions for you:
(1) What was the biggest challenge in achieving everything you did at Clemson and what was your secret to overcoming it?
(2) What story from your foundation so far brings you the most joy?
(1) The biggest challenge is educational. I challenged myself to take 18 and 21 credit hours. And 22 one semester which I had to get permission from the dean for. I learned that with more on my plate, I hate less time to BS. The structure brought me balance.
(2) Just starting it has been a lifelong dream as I've always wanted to make the path easier for those facing similar situations and life obstacles. Just working through solutions to the problems I want my foundation to achieve and gaining individuals to our network.
What are your thoughts on Tacos?
Not just Tuesday.
Firstly, congratulations on the movie and all your achievements!
I'm not sure how closely you worked with Dabo during your time at Clemson but how supportive was he of the situation you found yourself in?
Dabo was always very supportive. He always was lending a hand on and off the field. I knew back then he would go on to do great things giving the way he operated. He always thought it was necessary to surround himself with people smarter than him.
Can you explain the situation of you leaving Clemson? I remember there was a lot of confusion as to why you left.
Due to me graduating early the coaching staff wanted me to become a graduate assistant, but I wanted to play. Since I had graduated I transferred to Howard to pursue my Masters and continue playing football.
Which four teams do you believe belong in the College Football Playoffs this year?
The top 4 teams are Clemson, Clemson's recruiting class, Clemson walk ons, and Clemson coaching staff.
After that, I guess Alabama to round out my top 5.
Not the Clemson fans? 😀
Tailgating is the better form of entertainment when competing against yourself.
In the movie, Casey was your love interest. Was there a Casey in real life, or was she written into your story?
Yes to an extent, but her name wasn't Kacey.
Hi Ray Ray! Did you really have a hilariously Italian roommate, and if not, why not?
No. He's a composite of my roommate and other teammates.
Pineapple on pizza ? Yes or no?
Is there anything from the actual events that you wished they included in the movie?
There were several scenes before the edit that displayed more of the human component as well as life as a student athlete. Also tearing my ACL and realizing that football is not promised. One play can change everything, and more athletes need to know that.
Best BBQ near campus? My vote is Smokin Pig.
Jeff Davis' house. Him and his wife can do their thing.
Who is currently the best safety in the NFL?
The Honey Badger.
What was your favorite class you took in college?
Clemson 101. I thought it was ignorant at first to take a class at a school I'm already in and that I thought I knew, but learning more about the school and the campus and all the history brought a new perspective about how far we've come. And that enlightenment alone makes it one of my favorite classes.
Hey Ray Ray! Are you still involved with football in any capacity?
Yes. I'll be playing in the Flag Football Nationals in Florida, and the NFL Flag Football League.
Favorite away stadium to play in?
Florida State. Playing in the Bowden Bowls was fun although I got the shit knocked out of me during kickoff coverage on national television. And the announcer advised me to keep my head on a swivel.
Hey Ray Ray, so I currently work/write for The Tiger and wanted to know how much of the romance/article plot point is based in reality. It seems like there were parts that had to have been stretched to make an interesting movie. Thanks.
And for anyone who wants to see the original issue of The Tiger featured in the movie: https://tigerprints.clemson.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2471&context=tiger_newspaper.
Larry Williams of the Charleston Post Courier at the time wrote the story. Kacey, the composite, was made up of a young lady I was dating and a writer at the sports information department who followed up Larry Williams' story.
Me and my friend watched the movie a couple of week ago. We are from south america, so we don't have college sports culture and we didn't really get the final act (logical and norm-wise). How does the NCAA have any claims over private donations or help of any sort other than from the university or a busness? (As depicted in the movie, church help, people driving your movie-brother, fellow students, etc).
We enjoyed the movie, but from this point we felt that there was a cultural barrier to understand the problem.
Since Clemson is a public university it is technically government funded. As scholarship athletes we are getting a free ride from taxpayer money. Therefore we can’t accept gifts just like government officials can’t.
Top 5 offensive players you’ve watched this year in college football?
Travis is 1. Trevor is 2. Najee Harris is 3. Justin Fields is 4. Davonta Smith is 5.
Who are your picks for the championship matchup?
Clemson and the runner up.
Hey Ray Ray, hope your Tigers don't beat up on my Buckeyes too badly on Friday.
I recently played golf with a former Clemson wide receiver named Kyle Davisson. Awesome guy. I think he would have been there right around the same time as you. Did your paths cross with him?
How do you like the matchup this Friday with Ohio State, and what do you think the keys to the game are on both sides?
(1) I remember Kyle. Tell him I say hello. Anyone who played at Clemson is family even if we never crossed paths. (2) The game will be won up front. I do believe Clemson has an advantage in that category on both lines even though they're young.
Should NCAA players be paid?
I think it's a slippery slope simply because a lot of the larger programs (football & basketball) fund the other athletic programs and if they're paid then there won't be any money for the smaller sports in the athletic program. Although I do feel like there should be some incentive such as continuing health care for athletes that letter or were hurt while playing.
Are you still in contact with any of the coaching staff at Clemson?
Yes. I have plans to go speak with the team when it's deemed safe enough. As well as continuing to spread my message across campus with the student body.
Are the Bears going to make the playoffs?
We can all dream.
Follow-up question... What would you rate Aaron Rodgers mustache on a scale from 1-10?
Let me double-check. I'd say it's an MVP caliber mustache. That's a bad man, as Stephen A. would say.
Hey Ray Ray! In the movie there was the classic “beefy captain picks on freshman then they become friends” cliché. Did that happen in real life or was that maybe just an addition to keep some drama going?
The seniors were always indifferent with the freshmen until you earn your stripes so getting thrown in the cold tub/tied to the goal post/all your clothes missing from your locker after a shower/or turning the hot water off were all fair game as a freshman. So it wasn't just one beefy captain.
Hi! Just wanted to know if you got your Instagram account back already.. Is there a backup account we can follow? Sent you a message on FB about a convo I had with the person who hacked your account
Don't have it back yet, but I have people working on it!
I have not heard of your story and dismissed the movie on Disney+ as another cookie cutter sports film, can you briefly explain the message that you personally hope it's conveying?
Family over everything. I want people to know that they're not alone, and how great Clemson truly is.
Do you happen to know why Disney didn't go after any of Tiger Band's music for the film to put that extra punch of authenticity? I would assume budget concerns for licensing, but it's Disney. I would imagine they could have afforded it.
I'm not too sure. Although they did want it to be as authentic as possible. But understanding the legalities, a lot goes into making a film.
What is the most memorable game you played in?
I was 10 years old playing little league football and it was en route to my first championship as an athlete. We played a game that went to triple overtime that lasted 3 hours and 30 minutes and we won by 2 yards enforced by a penetration rule where whoever had the most yards in 4 plays won the game.
This is so cool! My mom went to Clemson and Im a huge fan of the team because of it. My question is:
What was it like balancing your schoolwork, taking care of Fae, and playing football all at the same time? I saw the movie a few times, so I know the gist of it, but I wanted to hear from you personally about what it was like.
If you have time, I also have a second question. What was it like seeing yourself portrayed in a movie?
(1) It was always better when I always had something to do, so having a busy schedule was better for me. (2) Surreal, but I think I'm sexier in real life.
score prediction for Clemson-OSU?
also, least favorite building on campus? Daniel Hall right?
Prediction: Clemson 33 - Ohio St 21 Least Favorite Building: At the time for me Vickery Hall. It was our academic support center. I love the people in it, but I couldn't stand the times I had to be there. It was always in the morning for me because of my obligations at night.
What's your take on the current state of college football? How would you modify the current playoff format?
I'd add more teams. Take it to a 16 team playoff.
Hey man, I’m in Atlanta. How do you recommend getting active in your foundation or is there any way to help?
Sign up for our newsletter on our website, and send me a direct message.
Hey Ray! What’s your life like now? Family? Job? Thanks!
Life is amazing, but I understand that I'm on a roller coaster. Just like there are ups, there will be downs. I take everyday as a blessing and I was grateful before the movie so each day after is that much better. Job: Running my foundation and finding other individuals to partner with and to help. I also started a trucking company using 26' box trucks to move freight across the country. I also am on the board of ScholarsEd which is an afterschool program with 55 facilities between Canada and the US. I'm working with them to build a financial literacy curriculum to further help everyone.
Where are you based? I am a fellow Clemson grad and own a freight brokerage. Would love to load your trucks if we operate in the same areas.
1) How accurate is the film with the little things (ie living situation, school/football balance, etc)?
2) Do you prefer pulled pork or brisket from The Smokin Pig in Pendleton?
(1) Pretty close, but they had to capture a lot in a short amount of time. (2) I'm more of a rib tip guy.
Harcombe or Schilleter dining hall?
Harcombe, not Schit-lleter. Although I've heard things have changed.
Aw. There's always the training table for the athletes.
Do you ever play fantasy football? Do you feel like you have an intuition for knowing who's going to play the best in their position (Or at least have a better chance of doing well) after having played professionally?
Yes I play fantasy, and yes I think I'm in a better position to know how things will play out based on my participation in sports.
How are you feeling about Friday's matchup vs Ohio State?
Feeling good. I believe Dabo will continue to do the job he's always done and keep the Tigers prepared for whatever they may face in these college playoffs. I bleed orange regardless of the outcome, and so does everyone else involved. We won before we played because we're a family.
Can you say your name out loud 5 times as fast as you can?
Yes, but it is a tongue twister.
Ray Ray, you da man.
Wtf is up with the Jets???
Are we talking historically or since the butt fumble?
What was the biggest challenge of playing for a NCAA D1 Team?
Which NFL player inspired you the most? Thanks for being here!
What's your favorite football movie?
Remember the Titans. Honorable Mention to Brian's Song.
What’s the best post-game meal?
Favorite is steak, but it's not the healthiest thing to eat after a game.
Have you ever seen a ghost?
Yes. Sometimes when taking hits we just called it a "flash" but it's really the ghost of your soul being knocked out of you.
I talked to a lot of my teammates about the movie. A lot of them wanted to see scenes of things we went through while on campus and asked me, since it didn't make the movie, will I cover it in the book. And have I talked to Disney about a series.
Why go to a school that was built over a slave cemetery?
The same reason I live in a country with a history of slavery. As a grown up at this point it's a choice. At the time it was a choice. While not trying to downplay the historical significance, but to highlight the changes that have been made since. Clemson has always done their part with making me feel welcome as well as other Blacks/African Americans on campus with inclusion. President Barker who was there when I was there went out of his way to not gloss over our shortcomings, but to highlight them and show where we need to make changes.
Hell yeah, ray ray you’re an inspiration. Followed your story while you were at Clemson and was blown away when I heard about the movie. Quick question- what do you make of the Tony Elliott news today? Think it will hurt our Tigers on Friday? Go Tigers!!
Tragic. Hope he gets well soon, but it goes to show you that 2020 still ain't over. I think him not being there is a huge loss, but I do think the staff is prepared due to the concept in the building of 'next man up' and how that permeates through the building. We all understand we have a job to do, and you have to lift your brothers up.
Congrats Ray Ray! How much input did you have in the script? I am a new screenwriter so this is something I think about if I ever want to adapt someone’s story. I think they should have input as I want it to be as close to real and honest as possible.
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