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Ray Lewis Statue Unveiling: 'Baltimore Is Forever My City'

"Anybody who wants to do anything in life, influence enough people to where they remember your presence. Change enough lives to know it's really not about you; it's about the people you come in contact with." – Ray Lewis

On Thursday, Ray Lewis was immortalized with a statue in front of M&T Bank Stadium.

As Ravens Team President Dick Cass said, it was a day to "unveil the statue of a true Baltimore legend."

But Lewis spent more than 30 minutes talking about everyone around him.

Lewis, a man who is hardly at a loss for words, was choked up and fidgeted before starting his speech. Then he got on a roll. Lewis thanked over 30 individual people and countless more that he didn't shout out by name.

Get your first look at Ray Lewis immortalized in his legendary dancing pose as he comes out of the tunnel.

"There is no statue without a lot of pieces to the statue," he said.

Lewis' likeness is now beside that of Baltimore Colts legend Johnny Unitas. As Owner Steve Bisciotti said, Unitas put Baltimore football on the map. Lewis defined what Ravens defensive football is all about.

"[Now] John gets to share this plaza with the greatest defensive player of all time," Bisciotti said. "We are witnesses to the greatest leader in the history of the NFL, Ray Lewis."

The statue depicts Lewis in his signature pregame dance pose, knee cocked, muscles flexed, grass in hand, shouting towards the sky. It captures Lewis' excitement, his passion for the game.

What Lewis wanted to impart in his speech, however, was that his career was built by everyone around him.

A large number of former college and professional teammates, friends and family were on hand to witness the statue dedication, along with a couple hundred fans that lined up just off the street.

Lewis looked out at the crowd. Every time he caught a familiar eye, he thanked them.

The group included his youth football coach, who gave him $15 dollars to sign up for football when Lewis' mother couldn't afford it. Lewis thanked his high school football and wrestling coaches.

He thanked his former Miami Hurricane teammate Warren Sapp and his college roommates. He talked about former Ravens teammates Michael McCrary, Duane Starks, Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson, and the drive they instilled in him. Lewis left former teammate and current Senior Advisor to Player Development O.J. Brigance as one of the last special thanks, for being a role model.

Lewis thanked Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti and Under Armour Owner Kevin Plank. He gave Baltimore Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps a special shout out.

There was a retired Baltimore police officer who survived a gunshot wound and taught Lewis to never complain. Lewis thanked a former Ravens medical staffer, equipment manager and his personal trainer. He choked up when talking about his children and wanting to provide for them.

"You think about all this, you think about what it really means," he said. "When talking about honoring me, honoring me is honoring everyone here, because everybody here had a hand in me."                            

Lastly, Lewis thanked all of Baltimore – his adopted home after leaving Florida.

"[I've always said,] I'm never leaving," Lewis said. He added, pointing to his statue, "Now if you want to know the real truth. I'm never leaving.

"This is forever my city."

The speech reflected what Baltimore has always loved about Lewis, and why Baltimore now has a statue of him. He extended his hand to those around him, and he did it with passion.

"It's like the Trojan horse," said former Ravens teammate, cornerback Duane Starks.

"Everyone who is inside that Trojan horse had a significant part of being victorious right along with him. When I look at that statue, I just picture it as the Trojan horse and everyone is hiding inside being a part of that life."

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