Days after his citation for marijuana possession, the former Missouri defensive end stood tall in front of a cavalcade of reporters following a "Play 60" event as a lead-up to Thursday's NFL Draft.
"I don't think a lot of people expected me to still come and be here, and face this," he said. "But I'm a man and I'm not going to run from anything. I've been open with everybody with what happened and of course I'm very sorry that it did happen, but like I said all I can do is learn from my mistakes as a person just like everyone else and continue to grow, that's the most important thing."
Missouri State Highway Patrol cited Ray for misdemeanor possession of up to 35 grams of marijuana on Monday morning after being stopped for speeding.
The 21-year-old repeatedly apologized for his mistake and understands that NFL teams have reason to question his judgment.
"With the timing of what happened, of course they would question my judgment," he said. "All I can try to do is ensure the teams that I will grow from my mistake and I'll continue to try and make better decisions."
Ray said he's spoken to many teams since the incident to clarify what happened -- that he wasn't arrested -- and assuring them he's learned from his mistake. The pass-rusher added that teams lower in the first round have began to reach out -- presumably anticipating him to fall on draft night.
"I'm getting a little bit more interest from teams later on in the first round, that's what it is," he said.
Ray added that he spoke briefly with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who told the incoming rookie to "keep (his) head up and move past this."
The draft prospect said he didn't need to enter any program because it was a one-time mistake. His most defensive moment when asked what he'd say to people who think getting popped for marijuana possession three days before the draft indicates he clearly is too immature for the NFL.
"I think people who feel that way should probably look at their own lives and question if they ever made any mistakes," he said. "My whole career, I've made generally great decisions and I've had a slip up here and there and it happens, everybody makes mistakes. Nobody can look at me and say they haven't made a mistake. Mine is only magnified because it's three days before the draft."
That magnification could end up costing Ray millions of dollars on Thursday night.
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