Ray Rice: Who is the disgraced former Baltimore Ravens running back?

A profile of the former NFL star and anti-bullying advocate

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ray Rice has dominated the headlines this week after video emerged of the NFL player appearing to strike his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in a lift.

Rice, 27, has now been cut from his former team, the Baltimore Ravens, and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Once one of the stars of game and ranked as a top-15 player in the NFL in 2013, we look at the rise and fall of Ray Rice.

Born on 22 January 1987, Rice grew up in 'The Hollow' in New Rochelle, New York, known as a rough neighbourhood. Sleeping two in a bed, Rice's father Calvin was mistakenly shot and killed in a drive by shooting when Rice was just one. He began playing the game on a concrete playground at just five and had his first job sweeping floors in a barber shop at seven.

In the eighth grade Rice was excluded from middle school, put on probation for a year and given 100 hours of community service after taking a pellet gun to school.

Speaking to the Baltimore Sun in 2010, Rice said: "That was definitely the turning point in my life.

"It came at a time when I was headed in the wrong direction. I sought forgiveness, not only from the community, but also from my mother. From then on, I never made a mistake like that again."

Rice attended New Rochelle High School and was the team's star running back, leading the school to a state title in 2003 and making the all-state team.

He studied at Rutgers University and was the team's star player from 2005 to 2007, and still holds records for career yards (4,926), touchdowns (49), 100-yard games (25) and 200-yard games (six). He also set the Scarlet Knights' single season record in 2006, before breaking it a year later with the school's only 2,000-yard season to date.

Rice entered the 2008 NFL draft and despite some concerns about his size that kept him out of the first round - he stands at 5ft 8in - the Baltimore Ravens drafted him in the second round, 55th overall.

Ray-Rice-3.jpg

Rice won the starting job during training camp but after some mixed performances was dropped to a reserve role; he ended up starting four games posting a total of 454 rushing yards and failed to score a touchdown.

In his second season, Rice broke out and became a dominant player both as a rusher and a receiver. Reinstated as the starter, Rice recorded 108-yards in the season opener and his good form continued throughout the season. He was eventually selected to the Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,339 yards and seven touchdowns and adding another 78 catches for 702 yards and another touchdown.

Rice was slightly worse in 2010 but still managed to amass 1,220 yards rushing and 556 yards receiving, recording six total touchdowns.

Ray-Rice-4.jpg
Rice won the Superbowl in 2013 with the Ravens

2011 was Rice's best as a professional and he posted career highs in rushing yards (1,364), receiving yards (704) and total touchdowns (15); Rice was the second best rusher in the NFL and posted more combined yards (2,068) than any other player in the league.

As well as returning to the Pro Bowl, Rice was named as the cover star for the NFL Blitz video game and was named as the 13th best player in football by the NFL Top 100.

His performances earned him a five-year, $35million contract extension in the summer of 2012 but he statistically had the worst season since his first in the league with 1,621 combined yards - though he was again named to the Pro Bowl.

Rice also completed one of the most memorable plays of recent NFL history, the 'fourth-and-29' against the San Diego Chargers that will "go down in history", according to Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. Furthermore, Rice and the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2012 with the running back a key performer for Baltimore throughout the play-offs.

Last season Rice struggled hugely with injuries on a Baltimore team that was almost unrecognisable from the one that had won the Super Bowl just months earlier. He rushed for just 660 yards and four touchdowns and caught 58 passes for 321 yards and no touchdowns.

An advocate of anti-bullying, Rice once spoke in front of 5,000 people on the subject and was known throughout the league as a ‘good guy’.

Ray-Rice2.jpg
Rice and members of the Baltimore Ravens met President Barack Obama after beating the San Francisco 49ers to win the 2012 Super Bowl

Rice was a popular player in the league and in the US, with an image as a hard worker, a role model and a motivational and charismatic speaker. He has appeared at functions alongside the Mayor of Baltimore and is known for given back to the city’s youth.

Stories such as Rice buying video games for children and autographing them and meeting a terminally ill fan and chatting to him for more than two hours added to his aura.

Then came the incident at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City on February 15.

Comments