Ray Rice's Wife Janay and Mother In-Law Speak Out About Elevator Incident

by Jackie Willis 6:06 AM PST, December 01, 2014
Photo: NBC

Over the weekend, Ray Rice's suspension from playing in the NFL was lifted, allowing him to play football once again if picked up by a team. Following this news comes an emotional interview with the running back's wife Janay Rice and her mother Candy Palmer, both of whom address the elevator surveillance footage from an Atlantic City casino showing the 27-year-old athlete punching Janay, his then fiancee and now wife, and then dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator.

In a sit-down with Today show anchor Matt Lauer, Janay says she and Ray were aware that the video footage would be released but were not prepared for the media firestorm that came after. "When I saw that it was horrible you can't make excuses for anything, but we were highly intoxicated," she recalls of first seeing the video. "And in the moment you're not thinking about, 'Oh my god. I'm on camera in an elevator.' So of course people are going to read into everything and pick at everything about the situation. We understand that."

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Lauer then bluntly asks, "Prior to what we have now seen in that elevator was there ever any incident of violence in your relationship with Ray or has there been any incident of violence since that elevator incident?"

Janay says that no, there was never any instances of domestic violence in their relationship. "Not at all. Ray knows me. And there's no way. He knows what he would have to deal with, you know, if this was something," she says. "You know, I'm not going to sit there in silence and let something happen to me -- and God forbid, in front of my child, just like, let it happen? There's no way."

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Janay's mother Candy says that the part of the video that disturbs her the most is when Ray just leaves her daughter passed out in front of the elevator. "I was very upset by that part and I told him so," she tells Lauer. "I basically told him that I didn't care who was out there at the elevator. 'You should have never left her there like that.' I did tell him that."

Janay adds, "And I asked him after I saw it, 'Why did you just leave me there like that?' He said he was terrified. He was in such shock that this had just happened and he didn't know how to function at that point. And then, you know, obviously by that time hotel security is there, the police are there."

In a press conference earlier this year, Ray apologized to the Baltimore Ravens and the team's fans, but left out saying sorry to his wife. Janay says of that "awkward" moment, "I mean, in our mind, it's obvious. He apologized to me more than once. Countless amounts of times. I'm sitting there next to him, so I wouldn't be sitting there next to him if I wasn't the first person to get an apology."

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Janay and her mother were quite composed throughout the interview, until the conversation circled back to Janay's 2-year-old daughter and how this incident has affected her family. When Lauer asks how she plans to explain this to her child, Janay says that she'll be "honest."

"I don't think I'll ever be prepared until that moment," she says. "You know, we're gonna tell her what happened. Let her know things like this are not okay. It's not something that she should tolerate. You know, let her know that people make mistakes and it's how you learn from them."

ESPN reports that several NFL teams are currently looking at having Ray on their team, including the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints. Lauer says he spoke with Ray off camera and the running back said he hadn't personally spoken with any team, but was keeping in shape in case he gets a call.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine star and former NFL pro Terry Crews spoke with ET about the Ray Rice incident when it first made headlines. "The NFL culture, the sports culture, has decided that they are more valuable than women," Crews said. "I've heard people laugh about keeping their pimp hand strong and keeping her in control so that she knows her place. But think about how evil that is for one man to think that he's actually more valuable than a woman, because as a human being your worth is immeasurable."

See ET's full interview with the actor, below.