When you someone mentions the name Ray Lewis the obvious words come to mind, big, fast, scary, hard-hitter; although unlike most NFL linebackers, the best way to describe Lewis is the word Motivator. Whether Ray is on the field, in the locker room, in the community or at a local charity or college, he spreads his words.
On Sunday Ray tore his triceps muscle, which abruptly ended his season. Once the news broke that his season was over everyone instantly started asking the question “Is this the last we will see of Ray Lewis playing football on Sundays?” The answer is still very unclear and even though he is 37 years old, it would not surprise anyone either way; Ray has a drive unlike most NFL players. He has come full circle from the gutters, to the top of the world, back to the bottom and then on top of the world again.
Listening to NFL analysts talk about Lewis he is put on a tall pedestal reserved not just for Hall of Famers but for Legends.
Ray isn’t in the discussion for top 10 or 20 to ever play his position, he is in discussion for top 2 or 3, Ray Lewis is a legend. When I say that Lewis has come full circle I mean just that, Ray was arrested the night of the Super Bowl in 2000 and indicted in the murder of 2 men. Ray eventually made a plea agreement and was exonerated on the original charges and only charged with obstruction of justice. But, to an NFL linebacker the damage had been done, after serving 12 months of probation Lewis set out on the huge task of rebuilding his image to not only the Baltimore Ravens Fans but to the entire NFL.
The following year Ray won the Super Bowl behind a huge defensive performance, as he won the Super Bowl MVP. But that wasn’t enough, while keeping his NFL linebacker image intact, he has let his actions both on the field and off the field speak for itself, by staying out of trouble and becoming a true family man. Ray spends his off field time taking care of his six kids and being the Father he never had. Ray also established the “Ray Lewis 52 Foundation” whose mission is to provide personal and economic assistance to disadvantaged youth.
Now over 12 years have passed since the night that Ray almost lost everything. He has become somewhat of a role model for people and kids to look up to. He has completely re-shaped his image to the point that he is constantly being requested to come and speak to not just people in need, but groups of people that want to get more out of themselves. He doesn’t speak from a note card or a screen but from the heart; he never knows what he is going to say but it will be what he feels at the time.
Ray Lewis has established himself as not just the immoveable object flying around the field but one of the most popular players in the NFL. Listening to Ray motivate his team before every game makes even a normal fan want to jump up and down with him. He has a way of speaking that just seems to make everyone around him want to do more. Ray has not only fixed his image but he has become an icon that the NFL can be proud of and kids can look up to. Sunday may or may not have been the last time we see Ray Lewis strap up his pads and hit some; but either way it wasn’t the last time we will see Ray around the NFL in one way or another.