Hours after the first day of school in a suburban Baltimore high school turned into every parent’s worst nightmare when a troubled 15-year-old pulled out a gun and shot a 17-year-old special needs student, one of the more moving responses to the senseless tragedy came from a surprising place. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice took to Facebook to express his dismay.
The Ravens, like many smaller market teams, have always been extraordinarily good about being involved in their community. Ray Lewis’ brother attended a local high school in the city and he’s known for buying hundreds of turkeys every Thanksgiving. But few are more active than Rice, who acts almost like a community organizer. Like Newark mayor Cory Booker, he harnesses his fame through social media to help out his neighbors. As Booker solves problems or directs his constituents to resources on Twitter, Rice puts up requests for help for families who lost their homes in a fire or kids that need school supplies. And while we’re sure he’s generous with his own funds as well, it’s his community-building spirit that makes his charity work go further than many other players.
And two days after the shooting, he kept the discussion going.
For Rice, bullying is a familiar subject that he’s clearly passionate about. He filmed an Anti-Bullying public service announcement and has spoken out about it often. In one recent speech at a Baltimore-area high school, he told his own story about his sister being bullied in middle school, when she was hit in the face with a rock.
“My mom was telling me she wanted to let my sister go take care of business, you know, you take care of it one time and maybe she won’t bother you no more,” Rice said (via the Carroll County Times). “I told my mom it’s not the right thing to do. The school will take care of it. We got the principal involved, we got the police involved. I think we got it under control.
“I want to get the message out that some people are not alone. 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.”
Bullying, of course, isn’t his only cause. When a train derailed in nearby Ellicott City last week, he used his star power to encourage his fans to help out.
And sometimes he just helps out people who need a hand.