Ray Lewis is already a permanent fixture in the memories of Baltimore Ravens fans, but now the retired linebacker is readying to be permanently displayed forever outside the M&T Bank Stadium. A statue of the fearsome player joined one of former Baltimore Colt Johnny Unitas when it was unveiled Thursday ahead of the NFL’s regular season opener between the Packers and Seahawks. The 11 a.m. ceremony was broadcast live on BaltimoreRavens.com.
The statue, sculpted by artist Fred Kail, who also made the Unitas statue, depicts Lewis frozen mid-step doing his entrance dance. Lewis, who is not shy at all, demonstrated his moves again at the unveiling one last time in a suit, and addressed the crowd of media and fans.
“I’m never leaving Baltimore. I will forever be part of this city,” he said (via @Ravens)
Team owner Steve Bisciotti also spoke at the event. He said (via @Ravens):
“We didn’t take this lightly for Johnny Unitas to share this plaza with the greatest defensive player of all time. … He truly was a leader who made good men great…We are witnesses to the greatest leader in the history of the NFL.”
Not mentioned, of course, was the darker side of Lewis’s past. Lewis was connected to two murders the night of Jan. 31, 2000. The Washington Post’s Kent Babb calls Lewis’s ties to the deaths a “footnote” to the star’s 17-season career. Babb writes:
Four months after the killings, murder charges against Lewis were dropped; he pleaded guilty to a much lesser charge, one count of misdemeanor obstruction of justice, and his two acquaintances were later acquitted. Still, Lewis paid millions in 2004 to settle civil suits filed by [victim Richard] Lollar’s fiancee and [victim Jacinth] Baker’s grandmother.”