In February 2014, Ray Rice threw a punch in an elevator that would change his life. More than a year later, the NFL free agent admitted he’s experienced some dark times since that day.

Rice, of course, was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for the incident involving his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, and subsequently was released by the Baltimore Ravens. In an hour-long interview with the Baltimore Sun, Rice revealed that his months out of football impacted him greatly.

“The big picture of it all, being the person that I am, I really felt horrible,” Rice said, via the Sun. “You almost want to punish yourself. I know I’m never going to win the battle of public opinion. Honestly, I almost felt like at one point that it wasn’t worth living. I see why people commit suicide.

“It hurt that bad. I was low, real low. It hurt that bad because you worked your whole life to do all the right things and then you’re the world’s most hated person. It was really tough.”

Rice was reinstated in November and remains a free agent, but he’s hopeful he can return to the field in 2015.

“I’m optimistic that I’ll get a second chance,” Rice said. “I don’t think this boils down to whether I can play football or not. Obviously I know that. I just think there’s so much more that comes with it. I know the PR side of it will be tough. I understand that.”

The 28-year-old last played in 2013, when he posted just 660 rushing yards on 214 carries, his lowest output since his rookie season. But Rice also admitted he played through an injury for much of the season after getting hurt in Week 9 against the Cleveland Browns.

“I was basically playing with one leg … I played through an injury I probably should have sat through.”

Thumbnail photo via Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports Images