As Ray Lewis prepares to take his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, teammates, coaches, opponents, family and members of the media reflect on the legacy of the legendary Ravens linebacker with their favorite memories and never-before-heard stories.
Written for PressBox
O.J. Brigance, a special teams ace on the Ravens’ first Super Bowl team, has worked in the team’s front office since 2004.
When I think about Ray Lewis, I think of three words: passionate, persistent and performer. Many have witnessed his talent on the football field, but I have had the distinct honor to get to know him as a man and friend. To finally see him inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is not only warranted, but well deserved! Despite the many circumstances that tried to derail Ray from his destiny, he persisted.
I have never been around someone more passionate about being the best at his craft than Lew. The difference between being average and being great is your willingness to sacrifice what you want to do to be who you want to be. He constantly sacrificed and pushed himself to greatness. There was no one who watched more film, worked out harder or was a better leader than Ray.
Back in 2000, it was my first season with the Ravens. I recall every Friday, Ray would gather the entire defense to watch film. Between Ray and Rod Woodson, they would go through all our defensive calls for that week as we watched film. He was meticulous in his preparation. Ray made everyone better around him.
The greatest memory that I have about Lew was when I was first diagnosed with ALS in 2007. I only had one request from my family and friends: Don’t treat me any differently than you always have. When I told the team about my diagnosis in 2008, he was one of the first ones to come by my office and let me know that nothing has changed. He would continue to joke around like we always have. He has remained true to his word to this very day! When we see each other, we immediately go at it like two brothers.
What many may not know about Ray Lewis is that he is a man of great compassion. But don’t ever mistake his kindness for weakness. On Sundays, there was no one who played the linebacker position any better than 52!
To read all 52 memories of No. 52, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Ray.