Former Rudall Ram Sam Gray has been awarded life membership of the Port Adelaide Football Club just five years into his AFL career.
At 26 years of age and midway through his career with the Power, Gray is a very young recipient of the award.
Life membership at Port Adelaide is for those who have made an ‘extraordinary’ contribution to the betterment of the club.
He has been involved with the club for 11 years.
Gray played his junior football at Rudall before moving to Adelaide in 2008 to play for the Port Adelaide Magpies.
He was 16 years old at the time.
His path to the AFL was more traditional than most, working his way into the SANFL side.
Since his senior debut in 2009, he has played 70 SANFL League games.
At 176cm, he was overlooked by recruiters when he nominated for the 2010 National Draft over concerns about his height.
However his performances at the Magpies impressed Port Adelaide, and he was awarded best and fairest in 2013.
The Power then picked him up in the rookie draft ahead of the 2014 season.
He has since played 76 AFL games in the midfield and forward line, producing plenty of highlights with his gutsy marking style.
The SANFL route is a path to Port Adelaide that many have taken before, but a path that closed behind him with the dismantling of Port Adelaide’s recruiting zones.
Gray’s mother Leeanne, a dedicated Port Adelaide fan, said it was amazing to see her son work his way through the system.
“He’s played with some amazing footballers coming through the Magpies,” she said.
“Being told he’s too little, too slow, he’d never make it… probably drove him even more.”
The life membership was announced at the Port Adelaide Best and Fairest function last Friday.
While Gray was unable to attend, Leeanne was there to see the presentation.
“It’s a huge honour for him,” she said,
It is an honour for the Gray family as well, who have become an important part of the Port Adelaide community.