Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ray Lewis House!! Ray Lewis Home !! Ray Lewis Mansion !! Ray Lewis Office !!! Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Ray Lewis House


With Ray Lewis, you can count on two things:

1.)The toughest middle linebacker in the game will eventually decleat you.

2.)He will then help you find your shoes.

Ray Lewis loves to hit people. Maybe that’s why he’s been named to the NFL All-Pro first team as a middle linebacker for a sixth time this season. Even at age 33, after having played in over 170 NFL games, one of the fiercest tacklers in the history of the game enjoys the process. The recognition of what the offense is trying to run. The anticipation of where the ball is about to go. Moving at top speed to that part of the field, then lowering his shoulder pads and separating the player from the ball. Despite the sheer joy Lewis derives from jacking up an opponent, it’s the moment after the hit that Lewis enjoys even more. “We were playing the Raiders last week and I put a hit on JaMarcus Russell,” Lewis says. “Between whistles, I told him ‘I like you big fella. Make sure you get my number after the game. And if you need anything, anytime, you give me a call,’” Then Lewis heads back to the defensive huddle and prepares to behead his new friend again.

Playing up the warfare element of football has made the NFL billions of dollars. Every coach encourages an “us against the world” attitude they believe creates winners. Comradery is for teammates only. But Ray Lewis has been to the mountaintop. He’s been the greatest player in the greatest game in the world. And with experience comes knowledge. “The game of football never changes,” Lewis says. “And life isn’t football. The guys who have been my biggest competitors—Hines Ward, Jerome Bettis, Eddie George—they are some of my best friends in the world.”


The business of football tries to convince players otherwise. Highlights celebrate vicious hits over sportsmanship. Controversy creates ratings. And ratings create money. There isn’t any money in encouraging a guy to ask another player for help or express affection and friendship for him, if he’s wearing a different color jersey. For that reason, Lewis usually extends his hand in friendship first. “It’s not just football,” he says. “It’s the world we live in. Every business is competition. People walk right past other people every day, won’t say hello or anything. Life is too short.” And when you have to surpass the obstacles Ray Lewis has had in his life, you realize it gets shorter every day.

We could list Ray’s career accomplishments here, but if you’ve watched the NFL at all over the last decade, you’ve seen them all first hand. At age 33, he’s been a nine-time Pro Bowler. He’s been named to the All-Pro team eight times. He is one of only six players to win Defensive Player of the Year at least twice. And he was only the second linebacker ever to win the Super Bowl MVP. Even though he has a few more years of football left, it’s the life after football that excites him most.


His Ray Lewis 52 Foundation is structured much like how Ray plays defense—it’s available to help anyone in need at anytime. “Growing up in a single parent home is not easy,” Lewis says. “God has blessed me this much, I have to pass a message of hope on to others. I’m trying to give hope to those who have lost it. My life is based on the understanding that anyone can praise people on top. It’s what you do when the world has counted you out.”

As with any athlete who makes it to play at the highest level, the path to Ray Lewis’ professional career was filled with obstacles. The first being his mom. “When I was 9, I wanted to play Pop Warner,” Lewis remembers. “My mom was afraid I was going to get hurt. That, and we didn’t have the $10 for the league.” When the coach saw Ray running around, he offered to pay half of Ray’s fee. After much pleading, Ray’s mom let him play.


“She came to the first game,” Lewis says. “She worked three jobs, so she was always too busy to come. I was wearing #85, the last jersey they had. On the first play, I ran a reverse on the kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown. After that, she was ok with me playing.” All through his school years, Ray Lewis was the man of the house, looking after his three younger sisters and younger brother Keon, who recently was a central figure on the HBO documentary Hard Knocks. “At age 9, my mother told me, ‘You don’t have time to be a child.’ I had to know what responsibility was—how to cook, how to clean. It gave us a togetherness. I brought that togetherness to everything I did, including football.”

Lewis blossomed in high school as a running back and linebacker. His favorite school, Florida State, offered him a scholarship. “The coaches sat me down.” Lewis remembers. “They told me, ‘You come here, lift weights and put some weight on your frame for two years, and you’ll start in your junior year after Derrick Brooks graduates.’ I don’t know if it was foolishness, but I told them, ‘What makes you think I’m not better than Derrick Brooks right now.’ I stood up and walked out. Man, my high school coach was mad at me. He was like, ‘You messed up a real opportunity at a scholarship.’”


But one thing Ray Lewis has never lacked is faith. Dennis Erickson, then the head coach of the University of Miami came to Lewis’ last game to scout the opposing team’s wide receiver. By the end of the game, he was looking for Lewis. With only four days left to commit to a scholarship, Erickson offered Lewis the last spot on the team, vacated by a player that blew out his knee. “Opportunity is always knocking,” Lewis says. “The only question you have to ask yourself is how hard can you work to take advantage of that chance.”

In his first practice with Miami, Lewis was thrown into the fire with the university’s prized recruits, “I signed so late, I wasn’t even in the media guide,” he remembers. Once inserted in the 9-on- 7 drills, Lewis bowled over one of the ball carriers, stepped to his chest and said, “Don’t be coming my way.” After that play, his older teammates Warren Sapp and Rohan Marley pulled him aside and said, “Today, you are a Hurricane. They took me in almost immediately.”

Even at that early age, Lewis understood that football is a business. That’s why he left Miami after his junior season. “I had nothing left to prove in college,” he says. “We could have used the money. My mother wanted me to finish school. I told her ‘Mom, trust me. If I leave, I’ll finish my degree.’ And I did. A few years later I finished at the University of Maryland.”


On draft day, he sat at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, waiting for the hometown Dolphins to draft him. Just days after his Miami teammate and close friend, Marlin Barnes, was murdered, and just a few blocks away from where Barnes was laid to rest, Lewis was about to embark on his professional journey. As he sat there grieving, watching himself slip down the draft board, listening to announcers say he was too small and would only be a special teams player in the pros. “I’m older now,” he says, “so I understand. But it still amazes me how guys who’ve never played the game at any level: pro, college, even high school, can come on TV and tell people a man can’t do something that they’ve never done.” Lewis knew he needed to show the world what type of man he was. When the Ravens finally selected him with the 26th pick, he cried.

Fast forward to today, the pro bowls, the tackles, the Super Bowl ring and a Hall of Fame career in the bank. The on-field Ray Lewis and off-field Ray Lewis are almost merging to become one. He’s still a fierce competitor, but he’s also a fierce friend to anyone who needs one. Including his rookie quarterback, Joe Flacco. “With Ray being around the league as long as he has and me being a rookie, he’s just given me the confidence to go out and play,” says Flacco. “He’s been behind me from day one. Whenever you have a guy that’s had that much experience and that much success, it gives you the confidence to go out there and play well.”

Ed Reed, the Ravens All-Pro safety and former Miami Hurricane still learns from Lewis. “My first years here, Ray taught me how to watch game tape,” Reed says. “He taught me how this business functions. Since I’ve been here, it’s been non-stop.”

To Ray, mentoring players off the field is as important a job to him as his role on the field. He’s part of a firm called Allied Athlete Group, which helps players prepare for life after athletics. They connect athletes with business opportunities in their local community in an effort to rebuild the player’s identity that gets lost in the militaristic culture of the NFL.

Lewis has seen the pitfalls that younger players find on their road to stardom—the wish to please everyone at the expense of themselves, the lack of respect that pervades the game. Even the lack of respect players have for themselves. “I’m always trying to share knowledge, even about the smallest things,” Lewis says. “Like cursing. Guys curse all the time. But you never know who’s watching you or who’s listening to you. Most of the time, I just have a simple conversation with someone. Timing is helping someone every single day of your life. I’ve made mistakes. I’m willing to share them. If there’s one message I have for the young players, no matter what you do in life, do yourself a favor. Do not walk by yourself. It’s too much to try to figure out.”

It’s why guys like Randall Cunningham and Rod Woodson still call Lewis every week to check up on him. They were his mentors when he was coming up in the sport. Even the greatest players in the world need a helping hand now and again. Even as they can already begin preparing Lewis’ bust for Canton, he’s always seeking knowledge. There’s always still something to learn about football as long as he’s draping the 52 over his chest. “And make no mistake,” Lewis says before departing, “I’ve got a lot of football left.

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