Rice: NFL un­cov­ered his ‘bru­tal truth’

The for­mer Ravens star run­ning back opens up about what led him to com­mit do­mes­tic vi­o­lence

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - SPORTS - By Jonas Shaf­fer Bal­ti­more Sun

For­mer Ravens run­ning back Ray Rice said Wed­nes­day that the 2014 do­mes­tic-vi­o­lence in­ci­dent that cost him his NFL ca­reer “un­cov­ered the bru­tal truth” of his life: that he had sac­ri­ficed his du­ties as a part­ner, fa­ther and Chris­tian to be­come a bet­ter foot­ball player.

Speak­ing in Lynch­burg, Va., at Lib­erty Univer­sity’s con­vo­ca­tion, in one of his most pub­lic con­ver­sa­tions about his ex­pe­ri­ences in the years since the re­lease of footage show­ing him punch­ing his then-fi­ancee in an At­lantic City, N.J., casino el­e­va­tor, Rice opened up about his life­long en­coun­ters with vi­o­lence and his reck­on­ing with them.

“I had it all wrong,” Rice said of his pri­or­i­ties. “I had foot­ball, fam­ily, then God. Re­verse that or­der. It’s sup­posed to be God, fam­ily and then what­ever comes af­ter.”

Rice, 30, said his child­hood did not ex­cuse his mis­deeds, but that it “def­i­nitely played a part” in who he be­came. His fa­ther was killed in a drive-by shooting when he was 1, and his mother’s sub­se­quent mar­riage was marred by ver­bal abuse, he said.

“I re­mem­ber my mom ba­si­cally be­com­ing some­thing that she wasn’t,” Rice said. So, sports be­came his “blan­ket,” hid­ing him from prob­lems at home and lead­ing him to foot­ball star­dom and a col­lege schol­ar­ship at Rutgers.

Still, he now says he con­sid­ers his child­hood “lost.”

“‘Man up’ is a very cliche term,” he said. “How can you be a man, and you never knew what it meant to be a boy?”

When Rice de­clared early for the NFL Draft af­ter his ju­nior sea­son with the Scar­let Knights, ev­ery­thing about his life changed. He re­called go­ing back to New Rochelle, N.Y., dur­ing col­lege and find­ing a home with no bed he could sleep in. When he turned pro, he said he had a bal­ance of mi­nus-$600 in his bank ac­count.

But af­ter sign­ing with the Ravens, he had a six-fig­ure bank ac­count. When­ever he felt down, he thought re­tail ther­apy would help ease the pain. Even his girl­friend at the time, Janay Palmer, now his wife, whom he had known since high school, was moved to “the back­burner of things in my life,” he said. “I’m just not proud of that, be­cause she’s the one who stuck with me through thick and thin.”

Rice went on to play six sea­sons with the Ravens, mak­ing the Pro Bowl three times and win­ning Su­per Bowl XLVII in 2013. But he ac­knowl­edged that he spent more time “try­ing to be the man” and not enough try­ing to be “a man.” Sports stars are too of­ten mis­taken for “godly fig­ures,” he said, and the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of his pub­lic im­age af­ter his At­lantic City in­ci­dent forced him to re­al­ize that he wasn’t “perfect.”

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