We may not like it, but we’re not going to be able to escape it.
No matter how hard you try, if you’re going to have a conversation about the Super Bowl…Ray Lewis’ name is going to come up.
If you plan on watching ESPN or listening to radio coverage of the Super Bowl…yes, you’re going to hear the name Ray Lewis.
Just bringing up his name elicits strong emotional reactions, as was the case this morning…
By now you may have heard the story of Wes Welker’s wife who sent out the following Facebook message after New England lost the AFC Championship Game 28-13 to Baltimore:
“Proud of my husband and the Pats. By the way, if anyone is bored, please go to Ray Lewis' Wikipedia page. 6 kids 4 wives. Acquitted for murder. Paid a family off. Yay. What a hall of fame player! A true role model”
She has since apologized, which drew ire from some who were actually applauding her Facebook rant and feel more people should speak out against this “transformed” monster. We had a caller today who shared those beliefs and asked why I was poking fun at Welker’s wife when Lewis is the one that deserves to be ripped for his past.
Look…I won’t waste space going over Lewis’ history…you can track that down (as Anna Burns pointed out) on Wikipedia or via Google. I also need to point out that I’m not a Ravens fan…I cheered for Baltimore on Sunday only because of my hatred for New England…I agree with everyone who feels his antics are a bit over the top (okay…maybe more than “a bit”)…and YES, his actions in early 2000 were deplorable – and some have even characterized them as: unforgivable.
Truth is, there are countless families of victims who have found the strength to forgive. It’s not an easy thing to do (I honestly don’t know how I’d react if I lost a loved one in a similar fashion) however; I have learned from others that it IS possible to let go of that anger.
I’m not casting judgment on those who can or cannot forgive (to each his own), nor do I want to engage in a discussion about ranking crimes and determining which are worthy of forgiveness.
What I DO want to say is this:
There are many young people who make mistakes (on a smaller scale than what Lewis was involved in) who afterwards feel the world is against them…or that they can’t turn their lives around. What ends up happening in many cases is that these same young people end up resorting back to the same things that got them in trouble in the first place. The original mistake is bad enough, but the mindset that an individual can’t turn their life around exacerbates the problem. Ray Lewis has a dark past…but his testimony gives hope to those who feel they don’t have a shot at redemption.
I can make fun of Lewis crying during the National Anthem, or sobbing during postgame interviews with Sal Paolantonio…but the truth is that he’s active in ministry, works closely with charities, and has been a model teammate. His present won’t (and shouldn’t) mask his past…but I don’t believe that one’s past should always mask their present, either.
Two can debate till they’re blue in the face as to whether or not Lewis deserved jail time. But I think both would agree (as difficult as it may be) that the life he’s lived since then is one that can be respected.
Role model worthy? I have trouble saying that about any athlete, but that’s for you and your household to decide.
I’m not a father (though I’m looking forward to that time in my life)…but I think we can all agree that looking up to athletes and putting them on a pedestal can often lead to disappointment (i.e. Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant). But I can’t ignore the fact that they do have an impact and make an impression on many people. A lot can be learned from the success, the victories, the mistakes, and the trials and tribulations of others…
…I just don’t want the power of a story of personal transformation to be lost on those who may need to hear that message, or see that example.
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