wikipedia | Rice was born in Washington, D.C., to Emmett J. Rice (1919–2011), Cornell University economics professor and the second black governor of the Federal Reserve System, and education policy scholar Lois Fitt Dickson, currently at the Brookings Institution. Her maternal grandparents were Jamaican. Her parents divorced when Rice was ten years of age.
Rice was a three-sport athlete, student council president, and valedictorian at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., a private girls' day school. She played point guard in basketball and directed the offense, acquiring the nickname Spo, short for "Sportin'".
Rice said that her parents taught her to "never use race as an excuse or advantage" and as a young girl she "dreamed of becoming the first U.S. senator from the District of Columbia". She also held "lingering fears" that her accomplishments would be diminished by people who attributed them to affirmative action. After her father's death in 2011, she said, "He believed segregation had constrained him from being all he could be. The psychological hangover of that took him decades to overcome. His most fervent wish was that we not have that psychological baggage."