Raymond Anthony Lewis, Jr. (1975- )

Ray Lewis during a game with the Baltimore Ravens against the Pittsburgh Steelers, September 29, 2008
Courtesy Andy (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Raymond Anthony Lewis Jr. is a retired American football player who spent his entire professional career with the Baltimore (Maryland) Ravens of the National Football League (NFL). Lewis played college football for the University of Miami (Florida) where he earned all-American honors. After college, Lewis was drafted by the Ravens in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft where he played the position of middle linebacker. During Lewis’s NFL career, he was a thirteen-time Pro Bowler, two-time Super Bowl Champion, seven-time first team All-Pro, and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Lewis was born May 15, 1975, in Bartow, Florida. His mother, Sunseria, was just sixteen at the time of his birth, and his father, Elbert Ray Jackson, was absent for most of his life. Lewis, the oldest of four siblings, attended Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Florida, where he was an all-American linebacker and wrestling star. After high school, Lewis enrolled at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida, in 1992 where he was a member of the Miami Hurricanes football team. During his time with the Hurricanes, he was an all-American and a runner-up for the Butkus Award as the nation best linebacker.

After the 1995 season, Lewis declared for the draft and was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round, twenty-six overall. Lewis was a standout player during his early years with the Ravens, despite the team not making the playoffs. On January 31, 2000, following a Super Bowl 34 party in Atlanta, Georgia, between the Tennessee Titans and St. Louis (Missouri) Rams (now Los Angeles Rams), a fight broke out between Lewis and his friends and another group of people, which resulted in the deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Lewis was jailed for eleven days but released after a striking a plea deal. Lewis pled guilty to one count of obstruction of justice and agreed to testify against the two people with him, both of whom were eventually acquitted. Lewis was also sentenced to one year of probation.

The following year, Lewis had one of his best seasons of his career in the 2000 NFL season, when the Ravens would go on to win their first Super Bowl (Super Bowl 35) against the New York Giants. Lewis was the game’s MVP and was later named Defense Player of the Year for that season. He remained with the Ravens until the end of the 2012 season. He retired from the NFL following a second Raven Super Bowl (Super Bowl 46) over the San Francisco (California) 49ers. The win earned the Ravens their second Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

Lewis is a devout Christian, but he also has six children, four boys and two girls, by four different women.