Austin Gray has been preparing for American Ninja Warrior for years. He’s a coach, he takes part in local competitions, and he even builds obstacles. Nothing was going to keep him away from his shot at the course.
Not even donating an organ.
In February, Austin donated a kidney to his long-time friend Kaylee Adams. Kaylee has Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis which causes her kidneys to scar over. With her previous transplanted kidney failing, she needed a new one. Austin never hesitated and jumped right into the donation process. As soon as it was safe, he then jumped right back out of his hospital bed and continued prepping for the Minneapolis Qualifiers, which were taped in May.
With Kaylee watching from the sidelines, Austin announced himself with a great rookie run. While he didn’t quite reach the buzzer, he’s well on his way to a long Ninja Warrior career.
First of all, can we take a second to appreciate the amazing shirt Austin was wearing in his backstory video?
“Of course I’m an organ donor, who wouldn’t want a piece of this.” Brilliant.
Austin told us that while he took it easy right after surgery, he did stay on track with his Ninja Warrior training.
“All the power I had is back. I feel just as strong as I was before surgery. I feel great. I probably didn’t do anything for the first four weeks (after surgery). Then I started hanging on bars and sort of ramping back up slowly. It probably took another five weeks after that to do Ninjas obstacles. Then at that point I was strong enough to start training hard.”
Austin brought that same fun energy to the course.
One of the Ninjas watching him fly through the obstacles was Ian Dory. He’s actually a huge reason that Austin became a Ninja.
“Ian Dory was my (rock climbing) coach and a big influence. I was on his climbing team the season he started Ninja Warrior. So I was there from the beginning watching him. That’s really why I’m doing it. Then, it’s just a ton of fun, so I keep doing it.”
None of the obstacles on the course intimidated Austin.
“I was feeling nervous before I saw the course, but now that I know what’s going on and there’s no mystery behind what I’m going to have to do, we’re good. I could have run the course yesterday,” he said, the day before his run.
Austin had his sights set on the Mega Wall and came up about a foot short.
In a twist no one expected, he then just slipped off the edge of the 14’6” wall, keeping him from the buzzer.
But that’s okay. He’s still on track to meet his goals this season.
“I don’t have any expectations. Obviously I want to crush. And I think I can. I think I can make it to Stage Three.”
Even without a Qualifying buzzer, Austin is still through to the City Finals. We’re sure there are many more buzzers in this rookie’s future.