TOWSON — Ray Rice gripped the microphone tightly like a football, delivering a powerful message to match his running style.
Along with giving advice and encouragement to roughly 700 children Saturday morning during Ray Rice Day at Calvert Hall, the Baltimore Ravens’ Pro Bowl running back drew applause by stating his goal for this season.
"I’m going to do my job and bring a Super Bowl back to Baltimore," Rice said during his annual football camp that he expanded this year to Maryland in addition to holding the camp in New Rochelle, N.Y., his hometown.
Rice was in constant motion at his free football clinic, overseeing drills and counseling youngsters ages 7 to 14 to have fun and show respect to their parents and coaches.
During one drill, Rice emphasized: "Make sure you grip that football right. Don’t fumble."
Rice was assisted by teammates Vonta Leach, Anthony Allen, Torrey Smith, LaQuan Williams, Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams, retired former Ravens linebacker Brad Jackson and members of the Towson University football team.
"Look at these kids, they’re nothing but smiles," Rice said. "I love the kids, I love being active in the community. I kind of feel bad for the kids that didn’t get in. To see the smiles on these kids’ faces is priceless.
"It definitely brings me back. I didn’t have a chance to meet a lot of NFL players growing up. My name is attached to it, but Ray Rice Day is really a community of people coming together for one cause and that’s for the kids to be happy."
Under heavy demand, the camp registration sold out in 48 seconds.
The football stadium was packed with kids and parents.
"The fact that it sold out in like point-zero seconds, shows the type of impact he has in our community," Smith said. "I’m excited to be here and to help support him."
Lou DiRienzo, Rice’s coach at New Rochelle High School, came down from New York to support the former Rutgers star.
"Ray Rice is special," DiRienzo said. "He’s still the same humble kid he always was."
Plus, Rice’s mother attended the camp.
A single mother of four children who teaches special-needs children in New York, Janet Rice bestowed a strong work ethic and character to her son.
"My mom is obviously the No. 1 person in my life," Rice said. "My goal was to always give her something better. We never made excuses for our situation. What we didn’t have, I didn’t go out to the streets and I didn’t go out to do wrong. I said, ‘We’re going to have to make our way.’
"Quite frankly, she’s instilled those tools in me to not only be a great person but to be a family man. I want them to have fun, but I want them all to leave here knowing that they’re all winners and they all have the same opportunity I had. It’s a fun game, so why not come out here, teach them some fundamentals and discipline and let them apply that to life."