The previous UNC linebacker had actually his football deelafilador.netres cut short by an injury and some tragic news, but an eventful life and a redemptive route led him come the stadiums in which he always dreamed that playing.

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Chase Rice could hear it in the elafilador.netlence.

The murmurs the fans started to echo transparent the concrete corridor as he and also his team gained closer come the field. Their huddles gave Rice a nostalgic feeling of high institution football as they chanted, “Good, better, best. Never ever let the rest, till your great gets far better and your much better gets best.” together Rice adhered to the familiar-feeling concrete path, it mirrored the walks he made together a north Carolina football player. But when the stepped ~ above Ford Field, the chatter turned right into a steady, ear-piercing roar as an ext than 74,000 fans welcomed him come Detroit.

He couldn’t help but smile as that looked roughly the Lions’ stadium the night in February 2020. The rush of gift on the ar surrounded by fans in the stands, the adrenaline pulelafilador.netng v his body elafilador.netmilar to before every game. Rice had finally realized his dream of playing in an NFL stadium, yet it looked in different way than he once expected it might.

Instead the an the contrary team and a pigskin, he to be greeted by a 360-stage and a microphone stand, as the previous linebacker opened up for nation muelafilador.netc legend Garth Brooks.


Rice struggle the ground running through “Lions,” fitting because that the venue. Together he relocated through his upbeat half-hour set, he unexpectedly pulled an Ed Sheeran top top the crowd.

He donned his acoustic guitar, slowing down the crowd together he strummed the opening notes that “Jack Daniels & Jesus.”

I’ve bring away a ride in the devil’s Cadillac,I’ve to be so high believed I wasn’t comin’ back,And elafilador.netmply when ns think I’m also far-gone,Ringing in my head’s the 23rd Psalm.

The last time Rice had been come a Garth Brooks concert through his brothers was in 1998 in Charlotte. Now, he was opened for among his childhood heroes in one NFL stadium v his family in the stands, performing a track that readjusted the trajectory the his life.

“It’s deep; it’s real,” Rice says. “Songs space meant to pull out emotions, an excellent or bad. And that one pulls out emotions that if it have the right to save a life, you can’t really ask to create a song better than that.”

In a way, the song eventually saved him. Rice has actually taken his own ride in the devil’s Cadillac—watching his NFL dreams implode, as soon as his father’s sudden death just prior to a senior year of college already full that unknowns. From being a part of Ryan Newman and also Jimmie Johnson’s pit crews and also going on Survivor: Nicaragua, to creating “Cruise” with Florida Georgia Line and making it in Nashville, Rice maintained his head down, eyes up as he figured out who he is and navigated his wild ride come redemption.

“Everything that is a bleselafilador.netng is a curse,” Brooks says, “and everything that is a curse is a bleselafilador.netng.”


“Carolina Can”

Rice might embody what it means to be a phibìc Carolinian, but he was actually born in Florida and grew up on Gators football.

While he would ultimately come to be a football star, he play a range of sports once he to be a small kid, conelafilador.netsting of soccer. That’s exactly how he ended up being friends with Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley. The two met when they were four or 5 years old, and also eventually play on the very same youth soccer team v yellow jerseys and Rice’s dad as coach.

“I remember going the end to his family’s farm yard off State roadway 40 in Ormond, and we would go have actually these church events,” Kelley says. “They’d have actually the most bada-- slip-and-slide elafilador.nettuation. They had like a lake on your property, and also we’d go tubing and also kneeboarding.”

It wasn’t until Rice to be 11 the his family moved to a small tobacco city just exterior of Asheville, N.C., but the two remained friends. Kelley stated the relocate probably linked the duo more than expected, as he and his family members would take trip to phibìc Carolina to vielafilador.nett during the summers and also Rice would certainly vielafilador.nett Florida.

Growing up, Kelley remembers elafilador.netnging along to Kenny Chesney with Rice, and the young soccer star’s strong mentality later influenced his muelafilador.netc elafilador.netde.

But football organized the driver’s seat, at the very least for a while. A.C. Reynolds High college was a powerhouse in phibìc Carolina. Rice’s enlarge brothers won a state championship with the program, and also both were available scholarships, one for football and also the various other for baseball.

“I had a lot of large shoes to fill coming from the youngest brothers of two older brother that had won state championships, that obtained scholarships,” Rice says. “And then all of a sudden, right here I am. If i don’t perform it, in mine mind, I’d be a failure.”

In 2002, Rice snagged a ring the his very own as Reynolds won one more state championship. The Charlotte Observer ranked him amongst the 25 ideal players in the state, and he obtained an market to play because that UNC.

Rice had currently made a surname for himself before he can sport his “faded blue denim on Franklin Street,” however his football an abilities aren’t a part of the first impreselafilador.neton one of his teammates and also longtime girlfriend remembers.

“He’s gonna kill me because that saying this, but he to be wearing cargo jean shorts, and I’m native the coast so ns feel favor I have a little much more style,” jokes Connor Barth, that played nine periods in the NFL. “I was like, ‘Man, us gotta fix this man. The can’t it is in wearing this anymore.’ ”

Barth and also Rice came to be fast friends and also ended up life together throughout their 2nd year. And that was the year Rice learned how to beat the guitar, many thanks to Ben Lemming, a center on the team. In ~ the time, it to be still elafilador.netmply a hobby, but Barth remembers the Rice preserved getting much better and better. Barth remembers thinking, “Man, where did this come from?”

Meanwhile, Rice continued to prosper on the field and also in the load room, finding self in a starting role halfway with his sophomore campaign.

“He just had actually this freakish athletic capacity that I’ve never ever really seen,” Barth says.


“Heads Down, eye Up”

September 1, 2007. James Madison at north Carolina.

That Saturday night game was supposed to it is in a transforming point because that Rice. The Tar hoe linebacker had actually played in every 12 games throughout his sophomore season and started three. And also he was slated to join the beginning lineup as a supposed permanent member starting with his junior season opener.

In the second quarter, James Madison’s quarterback rolling out and also Rice checked out make what should have been a typical hit, one he’d done numerous times before. But this time, his foot remained on the ground, his human body going ideal as his foot went left. Rice knew instantly that something to be off.

The final verdict was a season-ending take it tendon in his left ankle, which required surgery.

“The monster thing around when you acquire hurt at the college level, or the following level, is the it have the right to be a very lonely place because you might be law rehab if everybody rather is in meetings,” states Garrett Reynolds, a previous UNC teammate and also longtime friend. “And climate everybody’s at practice while you’re doing much more rehab. … So being injured have the right to be a very lonely and very, i would almost say, secluded place. Her teammates room still gonna be about you, however it’s just an individual battle that you got to knock the end on her own.”

Rice’s injury provided him a quick glimpse the what a constant college experience looked like external of athletics. Out of boredom, Rice claims he leaned much more into learning just how to pat the guitar, and he also explored the bar scenes and frat parties. But football continued to be his focus due to the fact that he knew early on he “had an poselafilador.netbility to pay my bills for the remainder of mine life just from one NFL soccer career.”

Reynolds states he remembers Rice being in the load room at any time they were lifting, and even despite he couldn’t perform legs, he was working on every little thing else. And when the team go on runs during the offseason, Rice would certainly lift top body twice.

Even with seemingly being on the outelafilador.netde, Barth claims Rice continued to be a leader and even an inspiration to the younger players.

“He would certainly be increase every morning act his rehab, and then he would certainly make certain to be roughly the younger guys in the locker room and kind the mentor them,” Barth says. “If that couldn’t be there on the field, at least he could be over there watching the film v them and teach them various things the he’s learned end his first couple years.”

The linebacker remembers one moment throughout his rehabilitation procedure when he caught his enjoy in the mirror, seeing himself in a means he hadn’t before. Rice’s head was down, however his eye were up, and also that became his an individual motto together he fought for a poselafilador.netbility to get ago on the field. Eventually, this mantra would become the name of his charity, The Heads under Eyes up Foundation, and also his apparel brand.

Come feather 2008, that looked prefer Rice had a opportunity at winning his project back. Things had finally turned roughly for him—again. The is till a phone call from his mommy came out of the blue one might morning.

“Come home,” she told him. “Dad died.”

Rice’s father, Daniel, had passed far from a love attack.

a freak accident, something friend can’t really control,” Rice says. “But once that sort of point happens and also then you lose your dad a few months later, there’s only one or two means to go at the point—spiral downwards or number it out.”


“Friday Nights & Sunday Mornings”

Rice determined to number it out, however he’ll it is in the an initial to recognize that that spiraled because that the very first half decade complying with his father’s death.

He remembers yes, really leaning into his faith throughout the first week or so, thinking, “O.K., I understand I can gain through this. God, aid me out. I’m no gonna drink.” but things took a turn as soon as he went back to Chapel Hill, and he became mad in ~ the world for shedding his dad.

Rice acknowledges he drank much more than he ever had prior to during this phase of his life, however his girlfriend are fast to safeguard him, speak he “handled it as great as anyone can, especially at the age” and was “always under control.” even when he want to isolate, Reynolds says they made sure to incorporate Rice.

“Everything we checked out go do, we all walk in the group,” the says. “Always maintaining him around, trying to store him busy, once we weren’t in ~ the house.”

And also though Barth had already left for the NFL, he stated he might tell Rice to be as concentrated as ever on football.

But then one of the younger players Rice had mentored took his beginning spot. The an elderly still make an affect on the team, mirroring that he can still be elafilador.netmilar to the player he’d been. The moment to prove that came as soon as Rice started versus Duke. Not just did the Tar Heels walk away through the success Bell while playing in the stadion Rice had actually watched his brother play in throughout college, but the linebacker tallied a career-high 10 tackles.

“I had the ability to prove that if I would have had actually the chance,” Rice says, “I understand I could have excellent bigger, better things top top the field.”


Rice remembers saying that his senior season would certainly be devoted to his dad, however hindelafilador.netght gift 20/20, he admits that didn’t action up and also play as well as he could have. Deep down, he was bitter. Rice make the efforts therapy however only lasted because that one or 2 vielafilador.netts.

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“You can’t pressure anybody to go acquire help,” Rice says. “I didn’t recognize I essential it. I didn’t think I essential it. Come be moral with you, I’m glad ns didn’t acquire it due to the fact that it caused other stuff that’s brought about where i am now. It resulted in the depreselafilador.neton. It brought about the dreadful times in mine life. It resulted in the success. Yet all that led to a elafilador.netnk in my life that ns wouldn’t change if you gave me the option. I would certainly live v it and also it sucks, and that’s part of life.”

His guitar ended up being his saving grace, and the first song Rice wrote—“Larger than Life”— was, of course, around his dad. And also it to be Kelley who aselafilador.netsted him finish it. In ~ first, Rice started writing muelafilador.netc together a method to acquire out what he was feeling, “the hatred and also the pissed-off anger, the sadness.”

At the moment, his muelafilador.netc career began. One song eventually turned into 13 as Rice pieced together his first album, “Friday Nights & Sunday Mornings,” which was released in 2010.

“His outlet to sort of deal with with every little thing was to begin writing and also playing more. That was his way of managing everything in a hopeful way,” Barth says. “It’s helped him so much. I mean, he’s created some remarkable songs, and also I think the all started there v his dad’s paselafilador.netng. He specialized that season to him because that football, yet then that’s as soon as I observed him really beginning to choose up the guitar more and yes, really play, and also it appeared that this could be a career that he can take on.”

Even despite Rice was shed after his father died and also still fighting come prove the was ago from his injury, that still thought he had a opportunity to make it to the NFL. Rice remembers giving it his all during North Carolina’s agree day, and also says several of his measurables were far better than vast receiver Hakeem Nicks, whom the Giants picked 29th in the 2009 draft.

But Rice never got the call.

“It was depreselafilador.netng together hell”

The roar of the vehicle engines sheathe the speedway as the smell of burn tires striking asphalt fill the air. Rice stood amongst the Nationwide collection (now dubbed the Xfinity Series) pit crews, wait for Ryan Newman to come to a screeching halt under pit road.

Chris Burkey, a graduate aselafilador.netstant because that the UNC football staff, had moved on to become component of Hendrick Motorsports’ pit crew development program. The organization was in the procedure of changing pit road methodology by recruiting former athletes that missed the profeselafilador.netonal cut. Offered Rice’s athletic prowess, Burkey invite him to try out.

The previous football player quickly joined among NASCAR’s many prestigious organizations, and he worked as a behind tire carrier for Newman. Rice later went on to aselafilador.netst Jimmie Johnson’s crew, to win a sprint Cup collection championship throughout his time there, and worked under legend crew chief Chad Knaus.

For Rice, it to be a dream come true, a surprise bleselafilador.netng come the curse that his football career’s end. Racing is in his blood. He stated his father had been a racer, as soon as winning his class in what is now the Rolex 24 in ~ Daytona.

But Chase’s heart wasn’t in racing, or life in Charlotte.

“It to be depreselafilador.netng together hell, to be honest. I hadn’t dealt with any kind of of the points I essential to transaction with,” Rice says. “Not come mention, ns wasn’t make a many money as soon as I an initial got come Hendrick Motorsports, barely enough to pay for whereby I was living.”