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Move over Ashley Judd, there is another Hollywood personality who bleeds Big Blue

By Jamie Vaught
KyForward contributor


In the near future, we could be seeing the male version of notable actress Ashley Judd, who grew up in Kentucky and attended UK.

There is a rising Hollywood actor from Kentucky that you may be watching at a movie theater or reading articles about fairly soon. His name is J.D. (John David) Gregory, a former UK football player from Louisville.

“I always have an inside joke because Ashley says she’s the No. 1 fan (in the Big Blue Nation), so I like to say I’m the No. 2 fan,” said 44-year-old Gregory, a passionate UK follower who currently has a recurring contract to appear as a police officer in General Hospital, the long-running television soap opera.

Actor J.D. Gregory played football at Kentucky and basketball at Trinity High School (Photo provided)

Actor J.D. Gregory played football at Kentucky and basketball at Trinity High School (Photo provided)

Asked if his Kentucky friends tease him about his roles in soap operas, he said, “Not at all, only my Dad at one time said, ‘Son, I love you and am excited for you, but I can only watch the scenes you are in.’”

And Gregory has a major role — the biggest of his budding career so far — as a supporting actor in a new movie, titled “The Prey,” which is expected to be shown in theaters sometime this fall. He worked with Danny Trejo, one of the leading actors appearing in that movie.

The Prey movie is about the American soldiers in the Middle East who becomes trapped in a cave that is occupied by a deadly creature.

His military background also helped him in the movie as Gregory is currently a second-class petty officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve.

“I joined the Navy post 9-11,” he said. “I felt it was my duty as a man to step up and lead by example and join the Navy in a time when they were asking for people. Old Hollywood joined the Navy and I wanted to be someone whom my state of Kentucky could be proud of, someone who not only is in pursuit of an acting career but serves and defends freedom as a sailor in the U.S. Navy.”

Gregory, who is signed with Los Angeles-based Mavrick Artists Agency (which represents celebrities like John Elway and Faye Dunaway), said he has two big films, including one with an Oscar nominee, in the works but nothing is locked in yet.

Before coming to UK, 5-foot-10 Gregory was a star athlete at Louisville Trinity High School who earned All-State honorable mention honors in football and basketball.

According to Gregory, he once scored a game-high 27 points against Ballard High School and star Allan Houston in basketball. Also, he and current Western Kentucky University football coach Jeff Brohm were the starting guards at Trinity.

At UK, Gregory was a member of the football team under the direction of coach Bill Curry during the early 1990s, but he didn’t see any game action.

“I came there as a fullback and a placekicker and punter,” recalled Gregory. “But after a few practices of scout team, I decided to just focus on being a kicker. Doug Pelfry was one of my mentors during my brief time at UK. I only had action in practices and scrimmages but no actual game action.”

Since Gregory was a kid watching Kentucky’s 1978 NCAA championship victory over Duke on TV (while listening to Cawood Ledford call the game on radio), his dream was to play basketball for the Wildcats at Rupp Arena. As a walk-on, he did work out with some of the team’s players in 1990 but things didn’t work out.

“I was devastated,” he said after learning that he didn’t make the squad. “My dream was denied.”

As it turned out, he decided to sign up for a theater class at UK and fell in love with acting.

“It gave me the fulfillment that basketball stole from me,” commented Gregory, who is married with two kids.

He later saw Ashley Judd’s success in Hollywood and he began to pursue his new dream to be a Hollywood actor.

Added Gregory, “Funny thing is I was cast as a kickboxer in a movie with Ashley called Kiss the Girls (which came out in 1997) and I remember walking up to her and saying ‘Go Big “Blue’ and we chatted briefly. I never got the chance to thank her for inspiring me to get out of Kentucky and head to Hollywood. My dream someday would be to work and co-star with her in a project. She is amazing!”

When he is not acting, don’t be surprised to see Gregory serving as a Navy reservist or working as an assistant athletic director at Trinity Classical Academy in Santa Clarita, California, as well as coaching the girls’ basketball team. He also serves as the children’s minister at a church.

As you can see, Gregory — a seemingly humble guy — sure wears a lot of different hats.

But we may be watching a lot more of him on TV in the coming years.

And it’s always really nice to see Hollywood success for someone who is from Kentucky.


Jamie H. Vaught is a longtime college professor, author, sports columnist and photographer. He lives in Middlesboro and recently launched the KySportsStyle360.com website, which focuses primarily on University of Kentucky sports.

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