The Tragic Truth About Grayson Murray

The following article includes mentions of mental health issues and suicide.

News of Grayson Murray's death was met with an outpouring of grief from the PGA community, and the loss had many who followed his career reflecting on his tragic past.

Murray had been playing the game that he loved when fans and fellow players saw the first sign that all was not well with the 2024 Sony Open champion: On May 24, 2024, he withdrew from the Charles Schwab Challenge. After the 30-year-old joined the much-too-long list of athletes who died too young, his devastated parents revealed that his cause of death was suicide. "We have spent the last 24 hours trying to come to terms with the fact that our son is gone. It's surreal that we not only have to admit it to ourselves, but that we also have to acknowledge it to the world," said Terry and Eric Murray in a statement shared by ESPN. "It's a nightmare."

Murray was a golf wunderkind who won three consecutive Junior World Championship titles. At age 16, he also became the second-youngest golfer to compete in a Korn Ferry Tour event. But beginning in college, a series of personal struggles started taking their toll on Murray's game, leaving many to wonder what might have been if he'd had an easier go of it. His hardships were something his parents acknowledged in their statement about his death, saying, "Life wasn't always easy for Grayson." Sadly, they weren't lying.

He suffered a concussion and was diagnosed with anxiety

After graduating from Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, Grayson Murray found it difficult to find a college where he felt comfortable. He started at Wake Forest University before transferring to East Carolina University. However, his collegiate career ended at Arizona State University, where he suffered a concussion in a bicycle crash. Eric Murray told NBC Golf he noticed his son had started behaving strangely after the accident, so the concerned parent headed to Arizona to be with Grayson.

Grayson first learned that he had social anxiety after he suffered an anxiety episode so overwhelming that he became unable to swing his golf club at the 2014 Southern Amateur. This incident led to his diagnosis, but his father later consulted a specialist because he noticed that Grayson seemed to be struggling with depression as well. The golfer spent over a week undergoing various tests at the University of North Carolina's Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center, where it was discovered that his concussion had severely affected his brain activity and eyesight. "He was already in trouble — the concussion just pushed him over the edge," Eric said.

After celebrating his first win in six years at the 2023 AdventHealth Championship, Grayson said he was using his own mental health experiences to help others who had reached out to him. "I'm not ashamed that I go through depression, anxiety," he told reporters.

His struggle with alcoholism and frustration with the PGA

Despite his early difficulties, Grayson Murray would go on to win the first of his two PGA Tour titles at the 2017 Barbasol Championship. However, he couldn't keep that momentum going, and in 2021, he revealed that he was struggling with alcoholism. In a since-deleted tweet, he blasted the PGA Tour for threatening to fine him $20,000 because he had gotten intoxicated at the bar of a Hawaiian hotel. "Why was I drunk? Because I'm a f***ing alcoholic that hates everything to do with the pga tour life and that's my scapegoat," he wrote, according to People. Murray found the fine especially hurtful because the PGA Tour had ignored his requests for help with unspecified issues. "The PGA Tour didn't force me to drink. But the PGA Tour never gave me help," he wrote.

A month later, Murray revealed that he had sought treatment for alcoholism. "I still have a long ways to go and have made a promise to myself that I wouldn't leave until I was 100% ready for the real world again," he tweeted, per Golf Monthly. After winning his second PGA Tour event in January 2024 — the Sony Open — Murray told Golf Monthly that he had eventually fallen off the wagon only to claw his way back up again. "I would not be in this position right now today if I didn't put that drink down eight months ago," he said.

His near-death experience isn't what inspired him to get sober

In 2022, Grayson Murray had to pull out of the Bermuda Championship after getting injured in a serious accident. According to Golfweek, he was riding a scooter when he collided with a moving vehicle, which sent him careening across the pavement. He suffered a broken kneecap and facial lacerations that required 25 stitches. Other cuts on the rest of his body made his total number of stitches an even 50.

In a 2024 PGA Tour interview, Murray said that he was lucky to be alive after the accident. "If I didn't have my helmet on, I probably would have died. It should have been my rock bottom, but I had to keep going," he said. Murray was still struggling with alcohol use at the time, but he didn't decide to take another shot at kicking his alcoholism until after his dismal performance at the 2023 Mexico Open. In addition to drinking the night before he hit the links, he decided that a little hair of the dog was just what he needed to calm himself down ahead of his round. He was wrong. "I got home and had an anxiety attack that lasted four days; it was the worst feeling ever. ... It was bad. It was really, really bad," he recalled. He was able to utilize what he had learned during his earlier stint in rehab to make his second attempt at sobriety stick.

Grayson Murray left behind a supportive family

While speaking to the media in 2023, Grayson Murray expressed some guilt over what his family had gone through as they spent years watching him struggle. "My parents have been through hell and back," he said (via the Korn Ferry Tour's X account). His father had worked tirelessly to help him treat his mental health issues and was empathetic to his plight. While speaking to NBC Golf about Grayson's anxiety diagnosis, Eric Murray said, "He was not only playing the top golfers in the world, but he was also battling himself, and that was the toughest battle of all."

Grayson credited his parents' unwavering support with giving him the strength to carry on when times were tough. "Everyone in my life right now who is close to me who has been through the struggles with me, it's all a team effort," he told Golf Monthly. Another part of Grayson's support system was his fiancee, Christiana Ritchie. When airing his grievances with the PGA Tour on X in 2021, he had mentioned how lonely life could get on tour, but before he died, he made it sound like he'd finally found a companion who would make the demands of his career more bearable. "It just goes back to just my life is so good right now," he said. "I wouldn't trade anything. I have a beautiful fiancee. I have beautiful parents." He also revealed that he had started prioritizing his family over his profession.

Comments about Grayson Murray's future are heartbreaking now

Eric Murray praised his son's tenacity in his 2017 NBC Golf interview but couldn't help wondering aloud how much Grayson Murray would have accomplished on the green without his mental health struggles holding him back. Still, he expressed some optimism for Grayson's future. "At the end of 20 years, I think he's going to look back and say that he's had a good career. But only he's in control of that," Eric said.

While Grayson failed to live up to his potential for many years, after winning his third Korn Ferry Tour title at the Simmons Bank Open in 2023, he had a positive outlook on his professional future. "Luckily, we play a game where we can have careers into our 50s, so 30 is still young," he told "I feel like I have a lot of good golf ahead of me."

Grayson had implemented all sorts of changes that weren't just aimed at improving his game but also his mental well-being. He was training with a "fear management" expert, and he told Golf Monthly that he had decided to stop tweeting, a habit that used to get him into trouble. (Murray even once tried to shoot his shot with Paige Spiranac on X.) He also spoke about his mental health advocacy, saying, "My story is not finished. I think it's just beginning. I hope I can inspire a lot of people going forward that have their own issues."

If you or anyone you know needs help with mental health or is in crisis, contact the relevant resources below: