Humphrey was the second head football coach in Malibu High’s history
Around a week after having his tonsils removed in 1993, Jake Ford woke his roommate and best friend Ray Humphrey up in the middle of the night and told him the back of his throat was bleeding profusely and he needed medical attention.
Humphrey, Ford recalls, jumped out of bed and drove him from their West Los Angeles apartment to the nearest emergency room as quickly as possible.
“He ran red lights,” Ford said. “When the doctor saw me, he told me I was lucky to get to the hospital. He said I could have bled out in my sleep. Hump saved my life, basically.”
Ford, a counselor and the head football coach at Brentwood School in Los Angeles, cherishes Humphrey, a former Malibu High football coach, for his life-saving drive and their lifelong friendship.
“He means everything to me,” Ford said. “I don’t have any brothers. He is my brother.”
Last week, Ford lost his best friend, whom he had known since middle school, and the Malibu community lost a cherished figure that coached and taught students in football, physical education, and other athletics pursuits for over a decade.
Humphrey died on Jan. 2 at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance. He was 53.
Humphrey’s cause of death was not known at press time. Ford said his friend had a lingering cough for nearly two months, accompanied by bouts with the flu and strep throat. Humphrey went to the emergency room once. On New Year’s Day, Humphrey visited his and Ford’s other best friend from childhood, Ian McGee. McGee noticed Humphrey’s drastic weight loss and fever and took him to the hospital. Once there, Humphrey’s health declined quickly, said Ford. Doctors discovered Humphrey had pneumonia. The former Malibu coach had trouble breathing.
“Twenty-four hours later, he was having to be revived because there was no oxygen in his blood and he passed out,” Ford said. “They tried to revive him for an hour and they couldn’t. Once he started declining, it went quick. We were not ready for it.”
Humphrey’s death shocked and saddened people in Malibu and the communities of schools he had coached at.
To announce Humphrey’s passing, Brentwood School posted a picture of Humphrey, a coach at Brentwood School since 2015, smiling with his hands together in a prayer motion. Next to the picture, the school remembered that Humphrey made a positive difference in the lives of every player he coached.
“He mentored, motivated, and challenged students to do their very best,” the post reads. “In 2022, Mr. Humphrey took on the additional role of athletic administrative assistant. He was a remarkable member of our community — reliable, good-natured, and always ready to help — and over the years he became a good friend to many Brentwood faculty and staff.”
Former Malibu High student Jonny Palmer wrote under the post that Humphrey was a legend and recalled him as his football coach.
“His memories will live on forever,” he said. “RIP Coach Hump. You will be missed but never forgotten. Fly free my friend.”
AJ Dorn typed that Humphrey coached him in football and volleyball at Malibu.
“Coach Hump was a great man,” he remembered. “What a sad day. RIP Coach may your spirit last in forever!!!”
Ryan Jancula recalled Humphrey giving Malibu High students rides to school.
“He was a good coach, great sense of humor, but more than anything, he was a great man,” he wrote. “RIP Hump.”
Ford said Humphrey loved the Malibu community, and the community loved him back.
“I know from the outpouring I have seen since his death, he clearly was loved there,” he said. “He lived in Santa Monica and would drive up to Malibu every day.”
Humphrey was the second head football coach in Malibu High’s history, leading the team from 2005 to 2014. Humphrey still worked at Malibu High and coached the track team for several springs afterward. He was as a youth football coach and coach at Santa Monica High before that. Humphrey spent around 34 years coaching the sport.
Ford said Humphrey was admired by many people.
“His track runners loved him,” he said. “His basketball players loved him. His football team loved him. He was a tireless worker. He was the first one to school and the last one to leave.”
Ford and Humphrey met as seventh-graders at Gove Middle School in Denver. Their shared interest in standup comedy began a strong friendship, which also included McGee. The trio all moved to the Los Angeles area in the early 1990s to attend college and were roommates for around a decade.
“We could just look at each other and know what each other is thinking,” said Ford.
Ford and Humphrey began their coaching journeys together as Pop Warner football coaches in Brentwood. They also coached together at Santa Monica High before Humphrey coached at Malibu High. When Ford got the head football coaching job at Brentwood in 2014, he urged his friend to join him as a coach.
Humphrey did so the next year. He was a defensive-minded, detailed-oriented coach.
“He didn’t have a problem getting in a kid’s face if he needed to and didn’t have a problem giving a kid a huge hug if he needed to,” said Ford, who coached with Humphrey for 15 years.
Humphrey has one brother that lives in Southern California and three siblings in the Atlanta area. At press time, a funeral date had not been set. Ford said a remembrance service will be held at Brentwood School at an undetermined date. He expects hundreds of people to attend.
“Coach Hump’s web is wide and strong,” Ford said. “He was someone everyone wanted around.”