Correction to This Article
The article about Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his mother, Janet, misquoted Janet Rice when she talked about an aunt who held cookouts at the housing complex in New Rochelle, N.Y., where the Rices used to live. The aunt's name was Sherrie, not Judy.

Running back Ray Rice leads Baltimore Ravens into NFL playoff matchup with the Indianapolis Colts

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By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 16, 2010

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- This family feud, it's liable to tear apart the Rices, young Ray and his mother Janet. It's been bubbling for at least six years now, since the night Ray was in 11th grade and his mother was running the bath for him after football practice in their tub in the projects of New Rochelle. Ray looked out the window then said, "Mom, I'm going to the League. One day, I'm going to come here and tell you, 'Mom, you don't have to work anymore.' "

Back then, Janet just nodded, tears filling her eyes. That was just a poor boy talking. She had worked her whole life, sometimes multiple jobs, a single mother raising four kids on hourly wages and welfare checks. But then the boy became a star running back at Rutgers, and then, lo and behold, he made the NFL, just as he had vowed.

And now, two years into a meteoric pro career, Ray Rice is one of the elite backs in the league -- a 5-foot-8, 210-pound cannonball, with more yards from scrimmage in 2009 than anyone not named Chris Johnson -- preparing to lead the Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis on Saturday night in the AFC divisional playoffs.

And, well, he's starting to lose patience with his mother: She won't quit her job. She won't pick up and move to Maryland with him. She can't bring herself to leave the special-needs students she teaches at Isaac E. Young Middle School. Those kids need her, she says, and it's also true that she needs them.

So this war of wills with her son goes on.

"I wish I could get her to quit. I tell her, 'Mom, you don't have to work anymore. I'm going to take care of you,' " Rice said after a recent practice, shaking his head. "But she won't have it. She's stubborn."

Okay, truth be told, it's not a feud, and it's not tearing them apart, and Ray is not losing patience. He's smiling. Truth be told, they could never be torn apart, after all they've been through together. If she won't leave New Rochelle, Ray will keep visiting home every chance he gets. And when he can't, he'll keep calling her every morning at 7 o'clock, like he's always done. And if he misses a morning, Janet will call him five, six, seven times in a row until he answers.

"Are you okay?" she'll say. "You got a fever or something?"

"No, Mom," he'll answer. "I'm just waiting for you to move down here."

An early maturity

There was always something about Ray Rice -- from the way he karate-kicked inside Janet's womb, to the way he rode a bicycle without training wheels at the age of 2, to the way he hit like a sledgehammer as a 7-year-old in his first season of youth football. He was small for his age, but could he hit.

"Sad to say, he was putting kids in the hospital," Janet said. "One time, they took a kid out of there on a stretcher, and I was just horrified. Ray had to calm me down. He just said, 'Mom, it's football.' "

His coaches would put Ray at nose guard on defense, because he'd blow past the center and smother the quarterback practically before the poor kid could even take the snap. Once, when Ray was 12, it just got to be too much. The second quarter had barely started. Ray had touched the ball just twice, scoring touchdowns both times. On defense, he knocked out the other team's starting quarterback on the first series, then one series later, the second-stringer.


CONTINUED     1           >

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