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
T.J. Smith is the chief spokesperson for the Baltimore City Police Department.
One thing I can say about Ray is that he is not a guy who rolls with an entourage; it’s him. It’s almost a direct contact: “Hey can you come over here?” You don’t have to go through this bureaucracy of people to try to get him somewhere or to get him involved in something. He kind of does this thing on his own.
I’ve described him to people by saying he’s the same way he is when you see him on TV in a huddle on the football field. He’s the same way in a one-on-one conversation when we’re talking about some of the issues in the city. He is just really intense, idea-driven and focused on trying to do something more for the community. I think a lot of people don’t realize what he does behind the scenes, because he’s not out in front of the cameras doing it. It’s a lot. It’s actually pretty amazing how often he is here in Baltimore. You would think he still lives up the street with how often he’s here.
My brother passed away recently, and after, Ray and I had a long conversation. I was sharing with him some of the business side of it, and we really connected on that because we’re talking about how we can engage with some of the young people. It’s so funny because I think back at the conversation, and I can see him sitting across the table — and it’s a serious topic we’re talking about without a doubt — but it truly is like we’re in the middle of that huddle, and we’re scheming up a play to make the tackle or intercept the pass or make this fourth-down stop. That same level of intensity is there.
That intensity is one thing that has stood out for me, and there is absolutely zero doubt that he is one thousand percent engaged and in it for the benefit of these young people.
What Ray means to the community is an intangible, quite honestly. You can’t quantify it because there are people who don’t even realize they’re being touched.
This is still home for him. I think he truly is a model for any player and any person who has a high profile and who thinks that they’re too good to be touched. He leaves the ego at the door. He leaves the entourage at the door.
The guy is one of the best, regardless of your politics. If you’re talking about the sport, he is one of the best athletes to have ever played the game of football.
But he’s still not above helping whoever. It can a grandma in West Baltimore or a rich person living on the water. I’ve been able to watch it up close and see him interact and see the intensity, and I know one thousand percent where his heart is, and Baltimore is fortunate to have an advocate like that.
To read all 52 memories of No. 52, visit PressBoxOnline.com/Ray.