Just before I started fourth grade, my family moved from Brooklyn to New Rochelle, New York. It was a town I’d never heard of before and the only point of reference I could give my friends about my new home was that it was “in Westchester.”
I’ve now spent the majority of life in New Rochelle. I played Little League there and knew New Roc City just about as well as anyone else.
I went to high school in New Rochelle. So did Ray Rice.
While Rice’s alma mater, New Rochelle High School, is not my own, we are from the same city in Westchester County. I know exactly what it is like to grow up in the “Queen City of the Sound.” There is no one from New Rochelle more revered than Rice.
June 15, 2013, was Ray Rice Day in New Rochelle. Rice, fresh off a win in Super Bowl XLVII held a one-day football camp for young players in the city.
Growing up, you were more likely to see a kid my age in a Rice jersey than a Jets or a Giants jersey. NRHS and the Baltimore Ravens both use purple in their uniforms, making a Rice fandom even more accessible. Youth football players all over New Rochelle heard Rice’s story. It doesn’t matter if people think you’re too small; just work as hard as Ray Rice did.
You might expect me to tell you, because I’m from the same city as Rice, that I have a different take on his predicament than everyone else. However, I am just as appalled and horrified as anyone else by the tape of Rice and his wife in that casino elevator.
In fact, I bet I am even more shocked than you are at that tape. I, like everyone else from New Rochelle, know all about where Rice is from, but I cannot imagine how he got to whatever place he was in that elevator.
I’m upset and saddened that someone from my town could be capable of something like that. I don’t know what part of growing up in New Rochelle made him think that there was any justification for his actions in that elevator. It’s frightening to think that someone my city has idolized could get so lost, so far removed from his roots.
In the wake of the release of that video, NRHS has joined many who have attempted to distance themelves from Rice. EA Sports’ Madden NFL announced that it was removing Rice from its ever-popular video game.
The school, not to be outdone by a video game, has removed plaques and photographs featuring Rice, who led the school to a state title in 2003 and held a state record with 462 rushing yards in a single game the following year.
Pretending that Rice never existed seems silly to me. That is not what will make this situation better.
If he truly wants the forgiveness of the football world, Rice must show that he can earn it.
He must show that he clearly understands the gravity of his actions. He must gladly accept any punishment that is handed down from the league. He must join the many already speaking out against domestic violence and become a beacon of support for those who need it.
The Journal News, the local paper in New Rochelle and Westchester County, reported that Rice returned home this past weekend and was on the sidelines for a NRHS football game. This is an important first step.
For Rice to truly start to make amends, he will need a home that can serve as his support system. A home that is compassionate and kind. A home that will welcome him and help him as he attempts to right his wrong. I can think of no better place than New Rochelle.
Max Prinz is the Sports Editor for The Fordham Ram.