The NFL is not immune to the various issues that are a troubling part of today’s world. We recently saw how some of these issues can be encountered by professional athletes. The Ray Rice situation has created a lot of stir and brought attention to a person that was the aggressor in domestic violence.
William Gay of the Pittsburgh Steelers is one player that has suffered a great loss because of domestic violence. He was only seven years old when he lost his mother due to it. He knows all about the most extreme toll that domestic violence can have. Gay is an example of how someone can take such a horrible experience and allow it to have a positive effect on their life.
Gay’s Steelers played the Baltimore Ravens last week. The Steelers vs Ravens rivalry is one of the more intense rivalries in the NFL. The dislike that these two teams have for each other doesn’t extend beyond the field in the case of William Gay.
He was asked about the Rice issue by members of the Pittsburgh media before the game against the Ravens. Gay didn’t show any anger towards Rice; rather he said that it was important not to abandon Rice even though he did something so horrible.
“At the end of the day, we don’t need to run away from Ray Rice. He needs help. We need to do everything that we can to help him. It lets you know that domestic violence is real. No one is immune to it. It’s a serious issue and we need to do everything that we can to prevent it,” Gay said.
The idea of stepping up in times of tragedy is something that was instilled in him by his grandmother. Gay’s grandmother raised him after his stepfather shot and killed his mother. It had to be difficult for Gay to work through the pain from such a loss but like most athletes, Gay found peace on the football field. He attended Rickards High School in Tallahassee, Florida. He played quarterback, wide receiver and safety in high school.
His success in high school earned him a scholarship to the University of Louisville where he was named to the Conference USA All Freshman team in 2003. Louisville moved to the Big East conference and Gay earned All First Team Big East Honors in 2006.
The Steelers drafted Gay in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He has never missed a game in his NFL career. As of last Thursday, his consecutive games played streak spans over 112 games. That is the longest current streak in the NFL for cornerbacks.
The position that Gay plays on the football field requires having a “short term memory.” That phrase is in reference to defensive backs needing to be able to move on from a bad play and redeem themselves by making the best of their next opportunity.
That same mentality is what allows Gay to be willing to reach out to Ray Rice and offer to help him. He watched the video just like many others did. He said that the video was disturbing and it brought back some of the bad memories of his mother’s death. “It’s painful to watch it. To see a woman get hit like that is just painful. You can’t watch it too many times. I just watched it once and couldn’t watch it anymore.”
Gay wants to share his own encounter of domestic violence with Rice and his wife Janay. He feels that it will help make sure that the couple continues to seek help and make sure any further happenings can be avoided. Helping others is something that Gay feels is good for both himself and the people that he reaches out to.
“Even when I came into the league, not too many people knew about it,” Gay said about recovering from his mother’s death. “But by me talking about it, me getting involved with different women’s groups about domestic violence, it helped me grow as a person. It can help others as it helped me.”
The big picture is what Gay sees and wants to help improve. “Someone could have died,” Gay told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That’s how I feel about the situation, so we need to do everything we can to help Ray Rice. We don’t need to run away from him and say he’s evil. It’s an issue, we need to deal with it, and we need to help Ray Rice and his wife to be better from it.”
As people, we need to be able to share our experiences with each other and learn from them for the benefit of our society. As the saying goes, “There is no testimony without a test.” Gay was tested at a young age and he overcame probably the biggest loss for a child, the loss of his mother.
Gay has supported the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh throughout his career. We can follow the example that he has set and work to raise awareness of this issue. Next month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh has created a guide of how you can help. You can get more information about how you can help by going to their website:
The amount of times that domestic violence occurs per day is staggering. Most people aren’t aware of just how big of an issue that it is all over the world. Here are some staggering statistics that back the statement:
-A woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds in the United States.
-More than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day in the United States.
-At least one in every three women in the world have been beaten or coerced into sex or abused in some form during their lifetime. Most of the times, the abuser is a member of her own family.
-Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
-Studies show that up to ten million children witness some form of domestic violence every year. Men who as children witnessed domestic violence by their parents were twice as likely to abuse their own wives.
Domestic violence is a real issue that faces any of us. William Gay is an example of fighting the issue head on. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month but this is something that we can work to raise awareness about on a daily basis.
More stories you might like