Maybe this support article will help > Mac OS X: Gray screen appears during startup
One of the suggestions at that link is to boot in Safe Mode. While you're there, check to see how much free space there is on the startup disk.
Once you see the Desktop, right or control click the MacintoshHD icon. Click Get Info. In the Get Info window you will see Capacity and Available. Make sure there's a minimum of 15% free disk space.
A Safe Mode boot can take a little longer then a normal boot so be patient.
Thanks for the email. Unfortunately, the safe boot did not work. I still have a spinning wheel and a gray apple. Even after I removed the battery, so I am not sure what else to. I have a call set up with tech support.
One question--when holding down the shift key--I hold it until the apple come up then I let go right?