As Super Bowl XLVII came to an end, so too did the illustrious career of one of the all-time greats, Ray Lewis. Considered the face of the Baltimore Ravens, Lewis has encountered great success in the NFL. His career may have ended with a Super Bowl win, but Lewis did not have an easy road to greatness.
Lewis was a first-round draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 1996, and has since become a major contributor to the Ravens defense. However, all his hard work was almost stripped away from him in January of 2000.
Murder charges, a result of a fight, threatened Lewis’ career but were dropped in a plea deal.
This event marked a turning point in Lewis’ life. He became a leader and an inspiration.
“Ray Lewis has strengthened the value of hard work, and the ability of every person to make a positive change in their lives,” said junior Eric Walker. “By using his belief in God and determination, Lewis changed the course of his life after a murder trial.”
Lewis now operates the Ray Lewis Family Foundation, whose website describes its service to the Baltimore community as “providing personal and economic assistance” to underprivileged families in Baltimore. It is Lewis’ efforts to improve the community and his sustained success that inspire many of his fans.
This past season, Lewis also struggled with torn triceps, a possible career ending injury. Despite what doctors told him, Lewis pushed through the pain in time for the playoffs, what Lewis himself termed his “final ride.”
Lewis and the Ravens made it to the Super Bowl to defeat the San Francisco 49ers, claiming Lewis’ second Super Bowl victory of his career.
“He deserved to win the Super Bowl and go out with a bang,” said sophomore Jessica Wood.
In Lewis’ 17 year career in the NFL, he has compiled a large number of awards in what is sure to be a Hall of Fame career. He is one of only six players to win Defensive Player of the Year twice, a 13-time pro-bowler, a Super Bowl MVP, the only player in NFL history with 40 career sacks and 30 career interceptions.That’s just a small list of the accolades he has achieved.
Many fans are sad to see this future hall of famer walk off the field for the last time, but Lewis’ decision was made to support his son. In the press conference at which he announced his retirement, Lewis said that he had made a promise to be at every one of his son’s college football games if he got a full athletic scholarship. His son will be attending University of Miami in the fall, all expenses paid.
Lewis committed his entire professional career to one team, a rarity among NFL players. He overcame personal battles and became a leader, both on and off the field. Lewis fought to win and will be remembered for his dedication and success as a Baltimore Raven.