he didn’t provide law enforcement officials with the truth as he knew it in the aftermath of a double murder in January of 2000.
Ray Lewis didn’t murder anyone that night in Atlanta.
But his career could have been killed by virtue of his association with the people who did commit the crime. And his decision to lie to the police in the wake of those two deaths was street-approved, but wrong on virtually every other level one could consider.
And he paid the price for that. He paid the price by spending time in jail. He paid the price by being dubbed “a murderer”. And he paid the price, literally, by having to fork over what essentially became nothing more than blood-money to the families of the two dead men because, frankly, he was the only guy associated with the crimes who had enough cash and stature to warrant litigation against…he was “the athlete with money.”
But the story of Ray Lewis, to me, isn’t about Atlanta. What happened to Lewis as an extension of that story could happen (and has) to any athlete or prominent member of society who has fame, fortune and the wrong-place-wrong-time-wrong-friends situation jump up and grab them.
The story of Ray Lewis is what he did in the 10 years after Atlanta.
You know what he did?
How many times since Atlanta have you heard Ray’s name dragged through the mud about an off-the-field story or incident? You’re right if you said…”zero”.
Zero=nothing. He’s done NOTHING over the last 10 years — except go about his business, keep his nose clean, and work tirelessly to repair his fractured image. In other words – when someone says, “Away from the playing field, what’s Ray done wrong in the last 10 years?”, the answer to that, simply, is: “Nothing”.
In a world full of pampered athletes who make more money than they can appreciate, garner more fame than they deserve, and get more extra chances than a “regular Joe” ever would, it’s rare to find a man who does-the-crime-does-the-time and then produces a clean slate for the rest of his life. It’s not easy to leave your troubles behind you — just ask PacMan Jones or Ben Roethlisberger or Michael Vick or any of Hollywood’s not-so-model citizens who can’t go out on a Friday night without earning their 3rd DUI or getting busted for coke or some other form of shenanigans that serves as their 2nd, 3rd or 4th strike.
There’s only one thing worse than someone running into trouble with the law or the justice system who doesn’t “get it”…a person who runs into trouble with the law a second, third or fourth time.
Ray Lewis took his first strike.
But he never looked at strike 2 or strike 3.
He’s worked the last 10 years of his life to make up for that night in Atlanta when he involved himself in a terrible situation.
And all along, that’s what he said he would do.
Lewis answered his detractors by saying, (paraphrasing) – “I’m going to be fine. I’ll show everyone that what happened (that night) wasn’t part of the way I live my life, even though I made a mistake by not coming clean with the police.”
In the months after the Atlanta event, Lewis promised that you wouldn’t see his name in the police blotter ever again.
And in a day-and-age where athletes and entertainers pose for mug shots as often as you and I go to the dentist, Lewis has ONE, and only one, appearance before the camera.
He made good on his promise.
Ray Lewis has been an outstanding member of our community since 2000. Those of us in the suburbs — particularly those of us who are white, frankly — have very little idea of the good Lewis has done in Baltimore’s inner city. He has spent his money, his time, his energy and a decade taking care of “his people”, so to speak.
It’s gone highly unpublicized, which, unfortunately, has probably been a PR mistake. Had I been advising Ray on marketing matters, I would have encouraged him to be a little more forthcoming