As the Baltimore Ravens walked off of the field after a late-morning practice yesterday in Owings Mills, Md., they stopped to talk with a group of injured military personnel from Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Players such as Ray Lewis and Jamal Lewis posed for pictures and signed autographs; Coach Brian Billick answered questions from the soldiers who watched the second day of the Ravens' voluntary minicamp.
But one player, second-year running back Musa Smith, lingered longer than the rest. Smith sat in the shade and chatted with his brother, John, a Marine who was wounded in a mortar attack while serving in Fallujah, Iraq, in April. John, 21, was in a coma for three weeks and his right leg was amputated at the knee.
"Any chance I get, I spend time with my brother," John Smith said. "I'd crawl out of the hospital. He's like my twin."
It was hard for the Smiths to keep in touch during John's two tours in Iraq; there were long lines for the satellite phones and Internet, and letters were slow. When Musa found out that his brother was wounded, "the only thing we could do was pray for him," he said.
And now John serves as an inspiration for Musa, who is expected to get more carries this year as Jamal Lewis's backup.
"I just look at him, and to see my position, I'm definitely blessed," Musa Smith said. "It definitely puts things in perspective."
-- Camille Powell