Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Lewis (who received his HOF ring today)
(o receiving his Hall of Fame ring) "Completion. Man, I tell you … Long journey, long journey. In the moment I got the jacket, life settled. The reflective mode of life, of everything that I had ever been through – everything – it made sense. It really did. And now, to put this ring on, to know the sacrifices of my family, to know all of the ups and downs of just life, period. And to do something in front of my kids is … Wow. I always tell my kids, if you start something, make sure you finish it. Every player I've ever played with, every player I've ever played with, from scout team – I will never forget one man – because I remember how every moment felt. Today is a good day because it solidified something that … These guys sitting right there in front of me … The moment Monte [Sanders], my trainer, and I got together … Yes, it's a great day."
(on celebrating in Baltimore) "Going through that parade yesterday with my daughters, I'm telling you, I've done a lot of things in my life. I've accomplished a lot of things, but going through that parade yesterday, it showed me how much love Baltimore has for me. It's deep; it's deeply rooted, and only God knew that this connection would be made before, when I was a young child, trying to figure it out. Seeing every response yesterday was how much I love - I promise y'all I heard 'love' over 2,000 times yesterday. 'We love you.' 'We love what you have done for us.' 'We love what you're doing for us.' It's just love, love, love, love, love. And now, to come back to Baltimore to celebrate, man, I just sit down now … And my mom doesn't like me smoking cigars … Whatever, she'll get over it. (laughter) I sit down, and I just think, when I sit there and say, 'How did I complete it?' I'll never forget me walking into that weight room the first day, and I'm like, 'What?' Then Ed Reed came. 'Kev' [executive vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrne] do you remember the days, man? And people used to say, 'Why do you train so hard?' And I'm like, 'Look, there's only one way to do it.' We'll never be outworked. That was our motto. So, to come back to Baltimore and to instill that in a community – that we can do anything if we do it together – that's what a family is. My mother taught me something a long time ago. She said a family that prays together stays together. But what praying does, praying says there's work to prayer. You have to do things to get things done. It's good. It's good to be home. I'm excited. My energy is crazy. I'm through the roof. I'm riding this wave, and I tell people all the time, every time something comes up, I'm just riding the wave, riding the wave. Because you can't really come down. 'Kev,' [Kevin Byrne] you know, you can't really come down from this. To achieve something, to be at this level, to sit and watch every Hall of Famer … [The] Franco Harrises, Jim Browns, Johnny [Unitases], rest in peace … All these guys. And now, for my name to be etched in stone forever – to do that, to have my goddaughter just sitting there so beautiful, to have my nephew, to have my twin sisters, my little brother – I told you, finish your race, run your race. Man, it's good to be home. It's good to celebrate with family."
(on coming out of the tunnel and doing his dance) "I almost pulled a hamstring. (laughter) I'm telling you, I don't have the knees. I was telling my daughter, I was like, 'I'm hungry.' I think that the greatest thing now is that when I do it now, I don't have to go out to battle. So, when I do it now, I can actually see the reaction of the fans, because when I was playing, I had to go grab my helmet, get some oxygen, whatever. But now, I can see the reaction of the fans, and I can hear it, and I can feel it. And so, when I came out of that tunnel, it was like … Wow. I really felt like I could give you guys 15 plays if we needed it in the fourth quarter today." (Kevin Byrne: "Wait a minute!") "I said, if you needed me. Let's finish this, let's finish this today."
(on the importance of giving back to Baltimore) "I think this is the second phase of life. I think God is really just getting started with me, with my philanthropy work, and everything that I'm doing in the community right now … The things that I've started to connect myself with … And that's why, even in my Hall of Fame speech, I spoke about something … How do we turn our legend into legacy? And we have to leverage who we are as individuals, and there are doors, there are things that I have done in my career, there are handshakes I have made … There are people that I have run across throughout my path, and now, for us, it's access granted. It's like legends access. What does that look like? For me to give back … I'll never forget when we were younger, we were so poor, and I always listened to my mom saying, 'Always give back. Always bless people. It's better to give than receive.' It's better to give than receive. So now, every time that I bless someone – my company, Power 52 – every time we give a person a new job, it's not just a job, it's recreating an individual. I was sitting with Mayor [Catherine] Pugh at the parade yesterday, and we're talking about all of the things that nobody knows about that we're working on, that we're making sure that our city – that's why yesterday, I kept telling our city, 'Hug somebody to your right and to your left,' because we can be the way, to show people what it looks like, and that's kind of what my vision is, in really helping these communities – it's really targeting what I think God has always said, when He says, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.' I think what He's really saying is teach them how to love. And now, I think in today's time, we have to teach each other how to love again. And so, that's why, in all of my work, I love going to … I love being touched now. There's a lot of celebrities, and they never come back, but now I'm walking the streets again, because I want people to touch me, to say, 'Wow, I can touch you?' This kid yesterday, he touched me at the parade, and he just touched me, and he came back, and he touched me again, and he was crying – probably about seven or eight years old – just crying, and he said, 'I never thought I could touch you.' So, for that, to give hope back to the community like that, like hope and love, it's the ultimate. I'm telling you, I've made a lot of plays, I made a lot of plays … I've won some big games, but I'll tell you something, to see a life changed, to see a life changed … That's legendary. So that's what I'm chasing next."
(on using a wireless microphone in Canton, OH) "Yes, I'm still getting grief about that. 'How did you get a wireless mic?' I called the Hall of Fame, and I told my assistant, I said, 'Look, I cannot stand behind a podium and give that type of speech. I'm going to have to move around.' And I said, 'I need a wireless mic.' There was no hesitation. I called them, and they were like, 'Absolutely.' It was kind of my thing. And that was kind of why I went totally off script. I wrote up an incredible speech, but I just felt something else. I felt that I needed it to come from my heart. I felt that if people really wanted to hear from me … I went through some things I had scripted, but to wear that wireless mic, I wanted to give them a piece of me. I wanted to travel. Any time that I get on stages like that, I just use it as my pulpit anyway, and I've been doing that since I was 10 years old. So, to use that platform for that, [it was] a great thing."
(on where his Hall of Fame ring ranks with his Super Bowl rings) "Three rings, I have way more than three rings, but it completes … I'll never forget every time we used to get done working out, we used to always sit there and we would just look at each other. I would always ask how it would end. How would it end? I think now, to have this ring, to take this ring … I always wanted to know what this looked like, what it felt like. I used to see people with it, and I would be like, man. And then you hear people on the TV say, 'He's a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer,' and I'm like, 'OK. Just let me get there, though.' And then you get there, and you put the ring on, and really, when you put it on, I'm telling you what it does ... If there was anything to achieve in life at the highest highs, to achieve in life, and guess what? I did it. I did it. And if there was any example that I leave for any one of my kids, guess what? We don't settle for being mediocre. We set the bar. And that's what this ring, for me, from junior high, from high school, from college, now to the NFL ... I remember the first time me and this man, Ed Reed, Monte [Sanders], and possibly Ed next year, 'Let's do it.' Let's go back to back again. The only players ever to go back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year, and now, we can go back-to-back Hall of Fame. The Ravens are on a hot streak right now."