Ray Lewis’ career – one that has spanned 17 years and amassed countless accolades – has come to an end. And when all is said and done, he will be considered one of the all time greats at his position.
His legacy, however, is something much more complicated that will follow him past his playing days.
For many, his accomplishments solidify his greatness: He’s a 14-time pro bowler, a two-time defensive player of the year, a Super Bowl MVP, the only member of the 40 sacks/30 interceptions club, and he has played his position longer than any other player in history.
On the field, Ray Lewis is greatness defined. But other facts detract from his grandeur: A 2000 indictment for double-murder and aggravated assault charges after a brawl outside an Atlanta nightclub, a 1999 assault case after a woman said Lewis punched her in a Baltimore nightclub, and an undisclosed civil settlement to the family of Richard Loller, one of the two men murdered in the case.
It’s worth noting that after the 2000 trial, he changed his life for the better. He is now an ordained Christian minister and his charity, The Ray Lewis Foundation, is responsible for improvements and advances to the lives of underprivileged and at-risk youths in the Baltimore area. In 2010, a part of Baltimore’s North Avenue was renamed Ray Lewis Way in honor of his charitable work.
It is impossible to separate one’s professional and personal lives. That is why Lewis presents perhaps the biggest conundrum of any sports star ever. No athlete has ever been accused of something so heinous, while later going on to accomplish so much good.
So what is Lewis’ legacy? He has made mistakes, but has lived life ever since with a focus on charity and faith.
Robert Pursell is a senior majoring in journalism.