Janay Rice, wife of Ray Rice, released her first public detailed interview with ESPN detailing the events of that night in Atlantic City, as well as everything in between. It is an extremely long and detailed account. I have the highlights below but you can read up on the full interview here!
On The Atlantic City incident:
There was something different about that day. The two of us were just off, starting that morning. I was annoyed because it was Valentine’s Day and Ray and one of his friends had planned a group trip to Atlantic City, while I had wanted to do something with just the two of us.
I was going to surprise Ray at the hotel with a couples massage, but the manager spoiled the surprise by calling Ray to confirm the time, instead of checking with me. From that moment on I was annoyed with everything, but I continued to act as if I was fine. We weren’t even in Atlantic City yet and nothing seemed to be going right.
After a silent, three-hour car ride we arrived at the hotel, where everything seemed to be much better. There were two other couples hanging out with us — Ray’s brother and his girlfriend, plus another couple we’d become close to in Baltimore. All of us went to dinner, and then met up again later at the club inside of the Revel Casino. We were drinking and having a good time. The six of us shared two to three bottles of liquor, which we also shared with a few fans who came up to us.
After the club, our friends from Baltimore, Ray and I decided to go to the late-night restaurant in the casino. Ray and I were bickering. We were drunk and tired and while I know that some people may find it hard to believe, none of the six of us can remember exactly what Ray and I were arguing about. It was that insignificant.
As we were arguing, he was on his phone and not looking at me. I went to reach for his phone, and when he grabbed it back, he spit at me and I slapped him.
We got into the elevator and what happened inside is still foggy to me. The only thing I know — and I can’t even say I “remember” because I only know from what Ray has told me — is that I slapped him again and then he hit me. I remember nothing else from inside the elevator.
The next thing I do recall is being in the casino lobby, surrounded by cops.
The police separated us and arrested us. They told me they had the entire incident on video. I was bawling. The cops tried to tell me what happened and I refused to believe them. If anything, I just felt like I was still drunk. I said to one officer, “That’s not us. What do you mean?” There were no marks on my face or body, and I felt perfectly fine. I was in complete shock.
They took Ray and I to the police station, where they held us together in the same room, but they kept us far enough apart so that they could talk to us separately. Eventually, we were left alone and Ray kept saying, “It’s going to be OK. We’ll be OK.” He just kept crying and apologizing, but I didn’t really want to speak to him.
We were at the police station for about six hours. Our Baltimore friends waited patiently as the police questioned us, and then drove us back home. I didn’t want to talk because we weren’t in the car alone. While in the car Ray called his manager; the Ravens security director, Darren Sanders; and his mom.
I was basically silent the whole way home. I was just in a fog.
On how they first met
THE FIRST TIME Ray and I met was at the local movie theatre in New Rochelle. I was 14 years old and he was 15. I was standing outside with a friend when he came up to me. I don’t remember much, except that he said I was pretty and I reminded him of Alicia Keys. I remember everyone walking by knowing him and coming up to just shake his hand. I had no clue Ray was a football player. I’m from New Rochelle’s rival town, Mt. Vernon where we eat, sleep, breathe basketball, so Ray knew from day one I wasn’t impressed by Ray Rice the football player. After continually asking for my number, I gave it to him and we’ve been friends ever since.
We started talking regularly and began building a friendship. He was a good guy and what I loved most was he made me laugh. We were friends for about five years, but didn’t date. During the summer of 2007, he started coming home from Rutgers a lot, and we just kept running into each other. I loved the fact that he had such a huge heart, and put everyone else first. I will always remember the time we went to the Galleria Mall and he bought sneakers and clothes for all his siblings and family members, but not one thing for himself. He always made me feel like the most special woman in the world. We started seeing and talking to each other more, and it grew into a relationship.
Ray and I came from very different backgrounds. I came from a home with both parents. Ray never knew his father because he was murdered when Ray was just a year old. When Ray came to my parents’ house for the first time, he jumped straight into conversation with my mom, who has always been a strong, independent force in our lives. But she was comfortable with him from the beginning.
When he met my dad, I was nervous. My father is a soft-spoken, strong man. He welcomed Ray with open arms. They shared a love of sports and that drew them closer. My father let him know how much he cares for his daughters, and since Ray didn’t have his father growing up, getting close to my father meant a lot to him.
I knew our relationship was getting serious when Ray opened up to me about leaving school early for the NFL draft. After he was drafted by the Ravens, he broke down in tears and asked me to move to Maryland and consider going to school there. I couldn’t believe it, but the timing was perfect. I was just finishing Westchester Community College, and I was looking to transfer to a four-year school.
After the incident in Atlantic City
RIDING BACK from Atlantic City to our house in Baltimore County, I still felt like I was in a fog. My mom had been babysitting Rayven, so she was there when we arrived. She knew we had been arrested, but she didn’t know exactly why. When we came in, she tried to talk to me, but I told her I didn’t want to go there yet.
Ray pulled her aside to tell her what happened, and when he did, I left the room. We separated in the house for most of the day. Ray was in tears, and I let him have his time.
Later, my mother asked me privately did this ever happen before. I understood why she asked, but I was livid — probably because I was embarrassed. She told me she was not going to allow me to be in a situation like this. She said she wasn’t going to tolerate that from either one of us, and that I needed to make a decision about whether I was able to move past it. I just sat there and let her speak because I had no words. She wasn’t saying anything wrong. But I was still processing everything.
Ray accepted responsibility from the moment we left the police station but even though my parents have always loved Ray, they made it clear their daughter would be treated right.
At first, I was very angry, and I didn’t know what to say. This came out of nowhere. Nothing like this had ever happened before. I knew it wasn’t him.
But as angry as I was, I knew it was something that we could move on from because I know Ray. I thought about our daughter. When she comes in the room, it’s like nothing is going on. We knew it was definitely going to take work, and we knew we had to be by each other’s side. I just needed to get away from him for a little while, and spend a few hours taking my space to get my thoughts together.
I convinced myself that this was all behind me. The next day, I finally felt like I was coming out of that fog.
That’s when Ray told me, “We’ve got to get ready for this to be on the ticker.”
On Ray Rice’s future in the NFL
We have no guarantees about Ray’s future in football, but I know that this experience has made us far more aware of what’s really important and how fortunate we are. We saw the impact of domestic violence on families from the time we spent last year at House of Ruth, a domestic violence center in Baltimore, serving holiday meals to women and their families.
On being called a victim
I still find it hard to accept being called a “victim.” I know there are so many different opinions out there about me — that I’m weak, that I’m making excuses and covering up abuse — and that some people question my motives for staying with Ray.
However, I’m a strong woman and I come from a strong family. Never in my life have I seen abuse, nor have I seen any woman in my family physically abused. I have always been taught to respect myself and to never allow myself to be disrespected, especially by a man. Growing up, my father used to always tell my sister and I, “We don’t need a man to make us, if anything it’s the man who needs us.”
No matter how long we have known each other and no matter what the circumstance is, Ray understands that violent behavior like this, even one time, is never acceptable. Ray told the truth and has fully accepted responsibility for his actions, which allowed us to work together at improving ourselves and get to the better place we are today.
I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve realized how strong I am. People ask me how I’ve gotten through this and I honestly cannot put it into words. I have grown closer to God. My faith has gotten me through each day. It’s been hard accepting the fact that God chose us for this, but at the same time it’s put us in the position to help others. We know our incident led to very important discussions to hashtags of “why I stayed” and “why I left.” If it took our situation becoming headline news to show domestic violence is happening in this country, that’s a positive.
I hope when people read this they realize that we’re real. I want people to know how much we love each other and how far we’ve come.
Everyone has their own story, this is mine.