A conversation with former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is typically dotted with homespun philosophy, frequent mentions of faith, and biblical references. Upon his induction to the NFL Hall of Fame, Lewis has encouraged members of the press to read Psalm 91, which ends, “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” This isn’t the first time the all-time great has spoken out about his faith. And Ray Lewis also likes to talk about the God of a second chance.
Lewis said, “For me, through the ups and downs, the roller coasters of 17 years, you have to find a safe place. You have to find that place that is very quiet in your head, and anytime I read it, anytime I come across it, my Bible, the first Scripture I read is Psalm 91.”
The former NFL Player of the Year compared himself to the character of David in the Old Testament. He sees David as a flawed, but righteous king, warrior, musician, and poet.
Speaking of his personal faith, Lewis said, “Man doesn’t dictate what you do or how you do it. If you believe in God, never stop trusting. That is where my faith lies.”
Back to the comparison with David, Lewis identifies with him because he was a sinner who turned his life around and made good. There were ramifications for his mistakes, but David discovered a God of a second chance.
Lewis has become a force in the community and a mentor to young athletes. His standard piece of advice to them is not to use his life and career as a model. “Follow my advice, not my footprints,” he says. “Don’t ever do it the way I did. You got to be willing to walk in a storm. That’s what I tell people all the time. If there’s something in your life that you know needs changing, make sure you change it before God has to do it for you. Because if God’s got to change it, you ain’t going to like it.”
Ravens executive Ozzie Newsome, himself a former NFL great, said of Lewis, “It’s not about how many times you get knocked down but how many times you get back up. And Ray has gotten up. He has followed his faith to a second chance God. Ray Lewis is a Hall of Fame player, but more than that, he has become a Hall of Fame person.”
About the Author
William Rhoden writes for the New York Times.