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.
As told to Glenn Clark
Stephen Poole was Ray Lewis’ wrestling coach at Kathleen High School in Florida.
He brought motivation, he brought excitement, he brought challenges, humor — he was so funny. But he would tease and aggravate them — the whole team. Even if we did relay races, whoever was on his team better give 100 percent. He was upset if he lost. Losing is not in his vocabulary.
The thing that I noticed about Ray — during a game or a match, he gave everything he had. When it was over, it was over. Like if he lost in a football game or something, I’m sure he was upset, but it’s like, “OK, this is over. Let’s go on to the next one.” Same thing with wrestling — if the team lost, “OK, we lost. Let’s go on to the next one.” It was always a positive, positive, attitude — always. A no-quit type of kid.
When I saw his heart, I said, “Give me someone with heart and they’re going to win.” That was one of my pre-meet speeches. I said, “It takes three things to be a champion. I can give you two, and that would be knowing the sport and getting you into condition. But the third thing — I will never be able to give, you have to come with — and that is the will to win. You’ve got to want to win.” I saw that in him, he wanted to win — he didn’t care. He was going to win one way or the other.
He was always clean — I don’t ever remember seeing him have a flag thrown against him in a football game or even wrestling for unsportsmanlike or dirty shots or nothing. He went by the rules. He played by them, and he played them hard.
He was just an impressive kid. He was in ROTC. He was a squad leader. His uniform was creased and it was sharp — and he was sharp — and shoes were shined. Whatever he does, he does it with passion; I don’t care what it is.
To read all 52 memories of No. 52, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Ray.