Football fans all across America know Ray Rice as one of the NFL’s elite players, but folks in New Rochelle know that Ray Rice is much more than a great athlete — he’s a great human being, who hasn’t forgotten his roots and really takes the time to make a difference in his hometown.

In the past couple of weeks, Ray has been all over New Rochelle. He delighted dozens of youngsters at “Ray Rice Day” sponsored by Youth Tackle, and then he was the guest of honor at the renaming of the Hollow Courts at the Bracey Apartments on Main Street. At every stop, he reminded kids to study hard, be respectful of parents, and focus on what’s most important in life.

Since I don’t get photographed with NFL stars too often, Ray’s visit also gives me an excuse to share this photo, taken at the Hollow Courts opening. Councilman Jared Rice, who spearheaded the event (and, by the way, shot an intimidating string of ten 3-point baskets just prior to the ceremony) is dead center in blue. Between the big guy in a white top and cream-colored shorts and the scrawny guy in blue standing next to him, you can probably figure out which one is Ray Rice and which one is me.