Fox Sports Net's critically-acclaimed original documentary series continues with a look at Ray Lewis. The Ravens linebacker talks openly about how anger has fuelled his greatness, how being charged with murder only made him focus more and about his one goal on the football field: to be the greatest player that ever played. Simple as that. BEYOND THE GLORY: RAY LEWIS airs Sun., May 9 at 8:00 PM local
Lewis' mother got pregnant with her first child when she was just 15. The baby's father came to the hospital and never saw young Ray again. His mother didn't even have a last name to put on Ray's birth certificate. She worked three jobs, but Ray still grew up so poor that syrup sandwiches were a common meal. Yet at the tender age of nine, Lewis told his mom that there would come a time when he'd be so successful, she'd never have to work again.
Ray Lewis always means what he says.
He used his bitterness towards his father to propel him on the football field. Each workout, Lewis pushed harder. Each rep was a smack in his father's face. When Lewis looked at the football record book at his high school, he made it his mission to break every one of those records. He succeeded. And his accomplishments led him to the storied football program at University of Miami.
"From Day 1, I had my own vision," Lewis says. "By the time I leave the University of Miami, that I'd be the greatest player to ever leave the University of Miami. I said that at 17. I didn't stutter when I said it. I meant it."
He didn't disappoint. The first-team All-American was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 1996 draft. In just his second season with the Ravens, his teammates voted him team MVP, his peers voted him to his first Pro Bowl.
Lewis' star continued to rise until a fateful night in January 2000, when he was arrested and charged with two counts of murder for an incident outside an Atlanta nightclub the week of Super Bowl XXXIV. He spent 15 days in jail and although he maintained his innocence throughout the entire ordeal, he became the poster boy for what was wrong with football.
Eventually, the truth came out. Lewis was convicted only of obstructing justice. But advertisers strayed away from the man who only months earlier they were lining up to have him sponsor their product.
The following season, he led the Ravens to victory in Super Bowl XXXV. He became only the second man in history to be named Super Bowl MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. He continued to work. To push harder. He had arguably accomplished his goal at the University of Miami. Now he wanted to be the best to ever walk off an NFL football field. After being named to his sixth Pro Bowl last season, winning his second Defensive Player of the Year award and being voted the Most Dominant Defensive Player in the NFL in a poll of coaches, Lewis is well on his way towards his goal.
He has no plans to stop until he gets there. After all, Ray Lewis always does what he says.
Those interviewed in addition to Lewis: mother Sunseria Smith, grandmother Elease McKinney, NFL hall of famer Mike Singletary and others.
Quotes from BTG: Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis (on his father): "I saw every one of his records in the record book. In my bitterness, I shattered every one of them. That was my strength? To make sure his legacy is erased, period."
Lewis (on his father): "He's the main reason I'm here. I carry it with me. Every time I made my mom smile, I made him angry."
Lewis: "I just want to be the greatest football player to ever play the game. That's it. That's as simple as it gets."
Lewis: "My mom is my energy. Game day is mother's day for me."
Lewis (on being arrested): "You don't understand the seriousness of what's going on. You don't understand there are two young black kids dead in the street. You don't understand any of that because you didn't have nothing to do with it so how could you understand it."
Lewis: "I walk out of my jail cell. For the first time in my life, I couldn't touch my mom. I couldn't hug my mom. I couldn't let her know from a physical standpoint that I was ok. She put her hand against the glass and I broke out (crying)."
Lewis: "I'd do anything to have a father-son relationship. I don't even need a relationship. I just need a conversation man-to-man. I pray that my father walks up to me one time and doesn't ask me for nothing, just says, 'Son, let's talk.'"
BEYOND THE GLORY continues next Sunday night at 8:00 PM Local with BTG: WALTER PAYTON.