Even the most devout Steelers fan would readily admit that Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was a titan of football.
How could they not?
Lewis was undeniably one of the true greats to ever lace them up on Sundays. He transformed his position as Singletary, Lambert, Butkus and Taylor did before him. But even the most ardent Ray Lewis/Baltimore Ravens fan will admit that his legacy is a confusing one that many find as enigmatic as it is legendary.
Now, four years removed from his playing days spent crushing quarterbacks and making life miserable for NFL offensive coordinators, the eventual Hall of Famer has begun the process of untangling his legacy and explaining the man underneath the black and purple No. 52 jersey. His new autobiography, I Feel Like Going On, is part of that process.
In the book, Lewis gets candid about everything in his life, from his undying faith in God, to his Pop Warner and high school playing days, to untold details regarding his 17-year NFL career. But one relationship, in particular, has been the driving force in his life.
Lewis admits he owes everything to his mother, who raised him and his siblings alone. He lacked a real father figure in his life, as did his father and his father before him. She was the glue that kept his family together.
"It was because of her strength that my younger brothers and sisters were able to get by," Lewis writes. "It was because of her resilience that we had a chance. That I had a chance. Really, everything I do, everything I am -- it's because of this good, sweet, proud woman."
Lewis also dives into his life as a high school wrestler and football standout in Lakeland, Florida and explores the process he went through when it came time to commit to a college. One particularly revealing piece that speaks to Lewis's headstrong personality comes about as he recounts his interview process with the Florida State Seminoles.
Growing up, Lewis dreamed of playing for Florida State. And his interview with head coach Bobby Bowden went swimmingly. But then he met with defensive coordinator Chuck Amato, who told Lewis that he'd be playing and learning behind linebacker Derrick Brooks. (Brooks, of course would go on to have a fantastic NFL career in his own right with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.)
Lewis's response to that?
"No disrespect, sir, but how [do] you know I'm not better than Derrick Brooks right now."
Then Lewis left the room.
Coach Bowden recalled in an interview years later that one of his biggest regrets in his illustrious college career was "that he let Ray Lewis slip away."
Of course, Lewis went on to have a historic career at the University of Miami. He was drafted No. 26 overall by the Baltimore Ravens, and the now legendary linebacker played his entire 17-year career in Baltimore.
On the field, Lewis was an unstoppable force and a larger-than-life figure, and he goes into immense detail regarding his NFL career. But he also details the lows in his life, the lowest coming during his murder trial in 2000 after his Ravens won their first Super Bowl. That ordeal irrevocably changed his reputation forever in the minds of millions.
Lewis takes ownership of his actions -- successes and failures -- exploring them in great detail in this engaging autobiography. Reading I Feel Like Going On is to truly understand this NFL great on a level far deeper than previously revealed.
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