Ray Rice

Ray Rice has been in the news these past few days, and it’s ugly stuff.

The Baltimore Ravens running back was caught on video carrying/pulling/dragging his unconscious fiance from an elevator. There were lots of rumors, and tonight reports have surfaced that police have video of Ray knocking Janay Palmer out in an Atlantic City casino.

Which makes me sigh.

I live in New Rochelle, N.Y.—Ray Rice’s hometown. Here, for thousands of residents, Rice is king. His No. 27 Ravens jersey can be found everywhere, as can different stickers and posters and magnets. Why, on my daughter’s shelf sits an autographed Ray Rice Baltimore helmet. It’s a prized possession.

If Ray Rice hit his fiance, I have no sympathy. He deserves what he gets—if that means jail; if that means the end of his NFL career. Whatever. It’ll be warranted. And yet, for the kids in my city, I hurt. Ray Rice’s success was a bright light here. He was proof that one can make it; that hard work and doggedness matter; that heart overcomes physical stature. Rice has been incredibly charitable and giving. He’s hosted myriad clinics and programs. When I say he’s beloved, there’s a reason the word appears in italics. He’s truly, truly beloved.

I hope there’s a misunderstanding. I hope we’re missing something. I hope—somehow—this is just a crappy dream.

But I’m a realistic at my core.

And here, where Ray Rice rules, the kingdom mourns.