The Baltimore area was devastated this spring when 15-year-old Grace McComas committed suicide after being bullied online. For Ravens running back Ray Rice, the incident had extra meaning.
Rice, whose sister was subject to bullying in middle school, joined forces with a San Diego-based anti-bullying group to host "A Ray of Hope: A Pro-Kindness, Anti-Bullying, Teen Suicide Prevention Outreach" last Friday. The event was attended by between 3,000 and 4,000 people.
"When I heard Grace's story it touched me," Rice said. "I felt every bit of the pain her family felt. It makes you think about why did it happen, and what can change."
Rice, who is in the midst of a contract negotiation with the Ravens, spoke about his sister's struggles with bullying.
"Going into the eighth grade, a girl kept on picking on her," Rice said. "The girl threw a rock, hit my sister in the eye, and my mother's first reaction was to tell her to retaliate. That wasn't the right answer. We got the principal involved, we got the police involved. … We haven't had a problem since. My sister is living a happy, teenage life right now."
This was Rice's second anti-bullying event. Shortly after McComas died in May, Rice hosted a "Ray of Hope" event for more than 100 people at Howard High School.
While cyber-bullying is a relatively recent phenomenon, states are working diligently to identify and eliminate it. Last week New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation requiring schools to investigate reports of students being bullied online. California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill allowing schools to punish cyber bullies last year.
-- Follow Robbie Levin on Twitter @RobbieLevin.