...and if he isn't, he most certainly should be.
All athletes create their own image. Whether it be bad or good.
Players like Brian Westbrook, Brett Favre, and Kurt Warner (to name a few) have spent their careers building a single image for themselves. The good kind, the kind of image that makes people like me strive to be better.
Then there are players like Adam Jones, Jeremy Shockey, and Plaxico Burress. Players who have created such a negative image of themselves that the public can do nothing but laugh at their immaturity and, in most cases, stupidity.
This is the type of player Ray Lewis was, and he will be the first to admit this. He lived his life much like those aforementioned players; careless and aimless. Lewis is the father of six children with four different women.
He was also indicted for murder.
For those of you who are not familiar with the story, I will give you a quick synopsis:
After a Super Bowl party in 2000 (a year prior to Lewis' SB triumph) two men were stabbed to death. Ray Lewis and two others were indicted for murder and aggravated assault.
Lewis had hit rock bottom.
After a combination of settlements and plea-bargains, Lewis was acquitted of his charges. And his life would never be the same.
Lewis embraced God and began spreading God's word. His faith is stronger than that of any athlete I have ever seen. Lewis has created the image of a great man. A man who reaches out to help the sinners. A man who reaches out to help the misguided.
Lewis tells each rookie to avoid mistakes that could cost him his career.
Mainly, he spreads the ever-so-famous creed of our youth: "Do it often, do it right, use a condom every night" (ok...probably not that exactly, but I know you get it)
He is a man who breathes honesty. He is a man who speaks nothing but the truth.
Ray Lewis has re-created his image into a Godly man. What makes Lewis special is not his turnaround. It is not his strong faith in God.
It is the fact that he plays football in the same manner he lives his life. Pure and relentless.
No player on the planet can fire up his team better than Ray Lewis. No player on the planet can equal his intensity and will.
Age and health have made him slower than he was during his Super Bowl run. However, his will and intelligence of the game he loves has kept him at the high level we have all become accustomed to.
Ray Lewis is the true epitome of a leader.
I love Ray Lewis because he is willing to die on the football field. He puts so much energy and determination into his play, that lesser man cannot defeat him.
Ray Lewis is most certainly everyone's favorite athlete.
"God has me to do what people are afraid to do: tell the truth. Racism exists. Hatred exists. I'm not afraid."