A former NFL player is using his notorious past to mentor aspiring athletes.
Ray Rice, who was caught on surveillance video knocking out his fiancé inside an elevator in 2014, was part of a Big 12 forum held in Dallas to tackle the topic of campus violence.
The hour-and-a-half conversation focused on the state of college athletics. The moderator called domestic violence and sexual assault the most pressing and haunting issue on many campuses across the country – including right here in Texas.
It's a serious topic that's generating a national conversation.
It was seen in the Baylor sex assault scandal that ended the career of football coach Art Briles, the demotion and resignation of former president Ken Starr and the resignation of its athletic director.
It's also a topic that turned former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice into an agent for change.
“What I'm about is the change. I want to help as many people as I can, as many kids as I can,” he said.
Rice was joined on stage at the Belo Mansion and Pavilion with four other panelists.
Among the panelists was Brenda Tracy. She was sexually assaulted by four men at Oregon State in 1998. Two of the suspects were football players.
Tracy says when the Baylor sex assault scandal broke, it brought all of her trauma back. Her son started a change.org petition calling for the NCAA to ban violent athletes from playing sports. Her son wrote a letter to the NCAA president and board of governors and got a response. Tracy was invited to be part of a committee convened by them to discuss that possibility.
"We're really trying to push to let the NCAA know this is not okay and this has to stop,” she said. “And you can step in and do something."
Tracy sat next to admitted abuser, Rice. The three-time pro bowl running back was shunned by the NFL after video surfaced in 2014 showing him hitting his fiancé. And through therapy and reflection, Rice says he's rehabilitated and spends his time mentoring high school athletes.
Rice says back before the 2014 incident, he was too afraid to ask for help. He calls that dark time in his life a blessing of sorts because it forced him to learn about himself and change for the better. He said he can't imagine ever laying his hands on a woman again.