Before Baltimore Ravens star player Ray Rice knocked out his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, in a ferocious punch seen around the nation, little was known about them. But there’s more to their story than the assault video that has left many stunned.
Here are seven things to know about the couple dominating the news.
They met as teenagers
They got married this year when Ray Rice was 27, but their relationship goes way back. Both are from Westchester County, New York.
They became friends while they were teenagers in their home state – Rice later attended Rutgers University while she was at local community college. Their relationship blossomed into romance, and by the time Rice started playing for the Ravens in 2008, they were a couple. Palmer moved to Baltimore to be with him and attended nearby Towson University.
Their first date was at The Cheesecake Factory
While both were away in college in their home state, they remained friends and stayed in touch. Rice decided to take her out on a first date after his return home from Rutgers. The spot: The Cheesecake Factory.
Rice proposed with a car and a ring
After she moved to Baltimore to be with him, she was studying for a degree in communications at Towson. Following her graduation three years ago, Rice came home and told her he’d forgotten his wallet in his car. When Palmer went into the car to retrieve it, she found a ring in a box. It was hers – together with a car sitting in the driveway, he told her.
They got married in a private, then public ceremony
The couple were married in a private ceremony in March, a month after part of the elevator attack video emerged.
They celebrated their vows in a June ceremony attended by family, friends and teammates.
Pictures of their ceremony show Palmer dressed in a strapless, beaded gown, surrounded by family and friends. Rice, in a gray suit and a bow tie, is shown with fellow teammates. A football-shaped cake sits nearby with a miniature Ravens player perched at the top, complete with a helmet.
At the wedding, their toddler daughter gleefully danced to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and rolled on the ground in a dramatic finale when she was done.
Their daughter’s name sounds like Ravens
In what may be a tribute to his team, the couple named their daughter Rayven – same sound but different spelling.
“I have a lot to be thankful for,” Palmer is quoted as saying at the time. “I’m aware of my blessings. I try to keep grounded because in any second, my life can change in the blink of an eye like it has already done.”
Rayven was born in February 2012. Rice has said it will be tough to explain his actions to her when she’s old enough.
Rice attacked her a month before they got married
In February, the couple’s quarrel in a casino elevator in Atlantic City ended with the knockout punch seen in the video. TMZ released a video of the attack at the time. “There are a lot of facts and a process that has to be worked through in anything like this. There are a lot of question marks,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said at the time.
On March 28, they got married in a private ceremony.
He was indicted a day before their wedding
An Atlantic County grand jury indicted Rice on a charge of third-degree aggravated assault on March 27. At the time, the Ravens issued a statement in his defense: “This is part of the due process for Ray. We know there is more to Ray Rice than this one incident.”
They got married the next day. In May, Rice pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault and joined a program for first-time offenders that could clear him of charges in one year. A longer version of the attack video surfaced this week, which prompted the Ravens to terminate Rice’s contract and the NFL to suspend him indefinitely.
“To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing,” Janay Rice wrote in an Instagram post.