Ray Rice's Wife "Refuses" to Watch Brutal Elevator Video Showing Him Knocking Her Out
"After this whole situation, you would think that we lived in a country of people who had never made a mistake, who had never sinned, ever, in their life. But everybody makes mistakes"
On Monday, NBC's Today aired the first of its two-part interview with Janay Rice, the wife of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was brutally punched by her husband (then her fiance) in a casino elevator in February.
When the shocking video of that incident emerged, showing the NFL star knocking his wife out, Ray Rice was quickly cut from the Ravens and indefinitely suspended from the NFL. The NFL Players Association appealed that decision and won, announcing Friday that the former Ravens running back's suspension had been vacated, leaving the now-free agent eligible to sign with any team.
In an emotional interview, accompanied by her mother, Janay Rice expressed how it's been hard for her to remain silent in the months once the video, the second one from that night, was released.
"It's been the hardest part, having so much of your life made public and have it all be negative," Rice said. "That's the hardest part, is not having any control over anything that has to do with you."
Rice said she saw the first tape, released just days after the Valentine's Day incident, which was taken from outside the elevator, but won't watch the second, more brutal footage taken from inside the elevator.
"I refuse," she said. "I'm not going to let the public bring me back there."
Her mother, however, has watched the tape, saying she wanted to see what happened to her child.
"I was kind of sick. I was sick to watch it," Candy Palmer said. Rice started wiping away tears during this portion of the sit-down and started crying when Lauer read her statement from the day after that video was released.
Rice said the tears are from the anger that was brought back.
"I was so angry. I was hurt … [voice breaking] Seeing the man that I love have everything ripped out from under him made me angry," she said. "The support system that I thought we had in the Ravens that made me angry. The fact that I knew we wouldn't be here anymore made me angry. We have to pick up and move our jobs from what you're used to. It hurt a lot. I just had to get it off my chest."
Rice added that she doesn't think it's fair that she's been seen as the face of domestic violence after that incident and quickly said no when Lauer asked if there had been any incident of violence between her and her husband before or after that tape was released.
"There is no way. He knows what he would have to deal with if this was something — I'm not going to sit there in silence and let something happen to me or God forbid in front of my child, just let it happen. There's no way," she said.
In response to Lauer's question about how Rice, whom he said he'd heard rave reviews of, could hit her, she said, "Everybody makes mistakes."
"After this whole situation, you would think that we lived in a country of people who had never made a mistake, who had never sinned, ever, in their life. But everybody makes mistakes," she added.
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In another portion of the interview, aired earlier on Monday's show, in connection with a report about whether a team would sign her husband now that he's a free agent, Rice said that she hoped people could look past what he did and remember how he's behaved on the field.
In another part of the interview, that aired during Today's 8 o'clock hour, Rice explained how she ended up apologizing during a May press conference with her husband, confirming when asked that the Ravens suggested she issue some sort of an apology. She also said she felt somewhat justified in apologizing because she was also arrested, but she doesn't think her remarks take away from the fact that her husband did something wrong.
And he apologized to her "countless" times, she said.
Rice also talked about what she would tell her now two-year-old daughter Rayven about the incident.
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"We're gonna be honest with her. You know, we're gonna tell her what happened. Let her know things like this are not okay. It's not something that she should tolerate. You know, let her know that people make mistakes and it's how you learn from them," Rice said.
Rice and her mother said that one of the things they take away from the incident is their awareness about those who really are struggling with domestic violence.
"What this has done is made us aware of the people who are actually living this every day," Palmer said. "And, you know, I feel bad for their parents, their mothers that they can't get their kids out of this."
Rice added, "I feel like God chose me and Ray for a reason and it was definitely to bring awareness to what people are going through every day. Even though it's not what I'm going through every day, it's definitely brought this topic to the forefront, and we're ok with that."
The Rice incident has since led to questions about how much NFL and Ravens officials knew about what was shown on the video and when they knew this. As other teams have taken action against players charged with domestic violence, the NFL is currently working on revising its personal conduct policy.
Lauer revealed Monday that the former Ravens running back was not there during his interview with Rice, but he returned to the house shortly after that meeting concluded and agreed to answer some questions with his family. Those responses will be shown on Tuesday.
Although Rice told her side of the story to ESPN's Jemele Hill, with the sports network's website posting her account of what happened that night online on Friday, Today scored her husband's first interview about the incident and the couple's first account, together, of their story. ESPN also wasn't allowed to use any audio of its interview, Hill explained, giving Today another exclusive in that sense.
Dec. 1, 12:37 p.m. This story has been updated with information and video from another clip of Lauer's interview with Rice that aired during Today's 8 o'clock hour.