Before Ray Rice became a household name by helping lead the Baltimore Ravens to Super Bowl XLVII, he was a star on the field and in the classroom at New Rochelle High School.
Just ask his astronomy teacher, Bruce Zeller, who told the New York Daily News of Rice's academic prowess as a junior in high school. At the time, Rice was a tailback for the Huguenots when he impressed the veteran teacher by identifying the eighth-brightest star in the sky, Betelguese.
“Of course he was right. That’s who he was,” Zeller told the News.
But studying and football weren't Rice's only interests. He had a legendary sense of humor, reports the News. New Rochelle coach Lou DiRienzo recalled Rice's freshman-year introduction to the team.
“Here’s Ray, this little piss-ass freshman and he comes out in a diaper and nothing else, doing some dance called the Wally. He enjoyed himself immensely,” DiRienzo told the News.
Among his other pranks, Rice set off firecrackers to scare a family member into thinking gunshots were being fired, and there were antics with fire extinguishers, reports the News.
The anecdotes may come as no surprise to Rice's legions of fans in New Rochelle who know the NFL star as a peer who grew up in The Hollows housing project and attended Isaac E. Young Middle School, where his mother, Janet Rice, remains a teacher's aid for students with special needs, according to ESPN.Go.com.
Janet Rice's dedication to the New Rochelle education system has forever tied the NFL and the Rice family to the town. According to the News, Janet Rice made the decision to keep her son in the school system when other offers were made to the family.
Ray Rice would go on to become an all-state running back and end up playing at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he became the school's all-time leading rusher in only three years. The Baltimore Ravens drafted Ray Rice in 2008.
Since entering the NFL, Ray Rice has made giving back to his community a priority. Every year he holds the Ray Rice Day clinic for 500 kids ages 7 to 13 featuring games, autographs and more, as Patch has previously reported.
After five years in the NFL, Ray Rice competes on his largest stage yet in today's Super Bowl. New Rochelle will be rooting for him.