Ray Lewis - Page 5 - Ray Lewis And Baltimore

Ray Lewis
- Page 5
Ray Lewis And Baltimore
By Childs Walker
The Baltimore Sun

As Ray Lewis tells it, the story of him and Baltimore is a creation myth.

His voice fell to a hush recently as he set the scene for his first season in the city, when the former Cleveland Browns were training at an abandoned state police barracks.

“It’s the one thing people don’t set out to do. Andthat is to change a culture, to really believe you can change a culture,” he said. “I walked in there that first day, and there was no hope. There were no numbers, no colors, no symbol, no nothing. We’re at an old Army base, and every day as I’m leaving, I kept saying, ‘Damn, they’re going to believe. Our city don’t believe. My teammates don’t believe. But it’s possible. I’m telling you.’ ”

Then, the pivot.

“You know what happened from ’96 till the time I left?” Lewis said, his voice rising now. “Hope changed. It became real. Falling down is one thing. Getting your behind back up is a whole different mentality. Not being the favorites. The underdog roles are the roles you remember the most. And that’s what that city, fromthe day I walked in to the day I left, when they walked in that stadium, they believed one thing: ‘I’ve got hope. I’ve got hope that there will be a better day.’ ”

The narrative is, like everything about the man, outsized. And if you’re a skeptic, it’s downright hokey.

But here’s the thing.

Lewis really did transform himself from an unremarkable college recruit and an overlooked NFL draft choice into perhaps the