NFL running back Ray Rice is still negotiating a contract extension with the Baltimore Ravens, but he hasn’t let that stop him from reaching out to Maryland youth.
Rice joined with Teen Truth Live, a San Diego, Calif.-based anti-bullying group, to host “A Ray of Hope,” a pro-kindness, anti-bullying event held at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md.
Nearly 4,000 people attended the event, at which Rice spoke about his own personal experiences dealing with bullies. He mentioned that his younger sister was bullied at her school and was hit in the eye with a rock by a bully.
“Going into the eighth grade, a girl kept on picking on her,” Rice said. “The girl threw a rock, hit my sister in the eye, and my mother’s first reaction was to tell her to retaliate. That wasn’t the right answer. We got the principal involved, we got the police involved. I think we got it under control. We haven’t had a problem since. My sister is living a happy, teenage life right now.”
Rice also talked about how he felt when he heard about a 15-year-old Maryland girl Grace McComas, who committed suicide in May after being bullied. He appeared at an anti-bullying rally held shortly after her death in Howard County.
“Well you know after I heard about the story about the little girl losing her life over somebody’s words, you can’t imagine somebody’s life being taken over words,” Rice said. “I live by the creed that sticks and stones they break your bones, but words can never hurt you. In this case, words killed somebody. When you think about it, we all put ourselves in somebody’s shoes, a different family’s shoes.”
“Whether we have kids or not, we can feel that family’s pain,” he added. “I felt that pain and I felt like it’s time for me to be a voice out there. In another situation, you’re talking about retaliation. That’s not the kind of retaliation that you need in this kind of situation. It’s getting your voice out there to help any other situation.”
Rice was joined at the “A Ray of Life” event by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. The two gave out free Ravens t-shirts and hosted a competition with the youths to find the best impersonation of the famous pre-game dance done by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
“I want to get the message out that some people are not alone,” Rice said. “If you feel like you’re in that dark cloud, you got to speak up because the only help to recovery is admitting that something is wrong.”