This week, NFL franchises commence training camp and officially kick off the 2013 season. The league starts a new chapter, and hopes to turn the page on what has been a nightmare offseason of legal woes.
A few bad apples have cast a negative light on the rest of NFL players, but fortunately there are members of the NFL brotherhood that refuse to let the bad choices of others spoil the bunch.
As he prepares for a repeat run at a Super Bowl Championship, Ray Rice donated his time (and a few thousand dollars out of his pocket) to support a child who has become an inspiration to him, Ashton Dean. The eight-year-old self-proclaimed world’s biggest Ravens fan nearly lost his battle with arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) over Memorial Day weekend.
Fortunately, Ashton battled through a life-threatening nosebleed and stroke and was released from Johns Hopkins on July 5th. As Ashton is confined to a stroller that he has outgrown, the Deans are facing a plethora of expenses in addition to the standard medical costs to help their son fight a debilitating illness.
Over the past couple of weeks, the Deans have been trying to restore as much normalcy to their lives as possible. Ashton no longer needs to be transported in an ambulance and he even built up enough strength to leave his house for a few hours and eat dinner with his family at Jimmy’s Famous Seafood last week.
There was also a surprise.
As Ashton sat at a table surrounded with 15 close friends and family, Rice emerged and a cheek-to-cheek smile came across his face. Ashton was elated to see a man who he calls his “hero;” but, as Rice has claimed multiple times before, it’s the other way around.
Then Rice did something amazing.
With his daughter Rayven in one arm, Rice presented Ashton with a black box. Inside it was an oversized replica Super Bowl ring seemingly large enough to fall off the fingers of Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie.
As the family concluded their meal, Rice got to work as the guest bartender for the evening. Hundreds of people packed an upstairs bar and $5,500 was raised in three hours for the family through donations and over $550 of items donated by Poor Boy’s Sports to be used for raffles.
Ashton left for the evening, carried through the crowd by his father, Rich, to everyone chanting “Ashton, Ashton, Ashton” a moment young Ashton recalled as soon as he woke up the following morning.
Ashton’s mother, Betsy, has informed us that Ashton will now be upgrading his stroller to one that he can comfortably fit in as he battles on each day.
In what was truly an amazing event, a special THANK YOU goes out to John Minadakis and his wonderful staff at Jimmy’s Famous Seafood and Mike and Tracey Tyson from Poor Boy’s Sports for making the evening one that a young man and his family will never forget.
After all that Rice has done, it’s hard to believe that he’s only 26 years old. Baltimore is blessed to have a man like Rice who is not only far beyond his years in maturity, but also one of (if not the) best leaders off the field a fan, parent or city could ever ask for.
Now, that’s how you Play Like A Raven!