Unlike most of his peers, Ray rose from humble beginnings. Raised in Dayton, Ohio by a single mom, he had to take jobs as a day laborer to help support his family in his youth. He eventually earned a scholarship which set him on course to become a member of the so-called "4H Club": the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, followed by undergraduate, business, and law degrees from Harvard.
His career in finance began in 1982, leading him to roles at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley before joining Citigroup in 2005, where he became the global co-head of investment banking and a high-ranking vice chairman. Before throwing his hat into the mayoral race, Ray earned recognition as one of the most prominent Black executives on Wall Street. It's no wonder his business acumen has drawn comparisons to former mayor Mike Bloomberg.