Earlier this week, running back Ray Rice mourned the death of Bailey O'Neill, a 12-year-old student who was beaten up so badly at Darby Township School in Pennsylvania that he was placed in a medically-induced coma.
At the time, Rice said this on his Facebook page:
"I don't know if we will ever get to a point where bullying is actually considered a CRIME, rather than 'kids being kids' or a 'playground incident.' … But, I DO KNOW THIS: I will NOT give up my fight. Every day I will continue to fight AGAINST bullying and fight FOR kindness."
Now Rice has his chance, and he's going all out to make the most of it.
On Thursday, Rice is providing written testimony in support of Delegate Jon Cardin's proposed legislation that would make cyber bullying a crime in Maryland.
And he's asking for your help too. Rice is encouraging all of his fans to speak out in person during a hearing on the HB 396 legislation today at 12:30 p.m. in Annapolis' Lowe House Office Building.
Rice provided a copy of his written testimony on his website, in which he talks about his devotion to the cause and how his sister recently was the target of bullying.
"I receive hundreds of messages through email and facebook each week from kids and teens who are bullied to the point of contemplating taking their own lives because of the hateful things others are saying on facebook, twitter, and instagram," Rice writes.
"We need to change youth culture so that children understand that their words have consequences."
Rice has long been an advocate of anti-bullying. He held the "A Ray Of Hope" anti-bullying event at Merriweather Post Pavilion last summer and has on numerous occasions spoken out against it.
It has become an admirable personal crusade for the Pro Bowl running back.
"Bailey - my little buddy, I will not let you become just another bully statistic," Rice wrote. "You are my inspiration and one more angel that will help me continue the fight for kids everywhere. You are going to help me save lives. RIP my little friend."