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Ray Lewis urges fathers not to be like his father

Ray Lewis III, Ray Lewis Jr.

Ray Lewis III, left, and his father, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis Jr., share a laugh after his national signing day ceremony in the Lake Mary Prep auditorium in Lake Mary, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Lewis signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Miami, where his father also played college football. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)


Before Ray Lewis became an All-Pro linebacker, he was a baby boy named Ray Jenkins, whose father abandoned him. Now that he’s retired from his Hall of Fame career, one of Lewis’s priorities is opening up about his childhood and urging other fathers not to be like his father.

In a speech on Saturday at a Texas church, Lewis said there’s no excuse for fathers not to be involved in their children’s lives. And Lewis said he still can’t understand how his father to leave him as a newborn, and leave his 15-year-old mother alone with a baby to care for and medical bills.

I started to learn the story, and it baffled me,” Lewis said, via the Dallas Morning News. “The world is too crazy to leave a man by himself.”

His mom later started dating a man named Ray Lewis, and Lewis took that man’s last name. In his speech, Lewis urged men in the audience to take it upon themselves to raise their boys.

“I don’t care how good a mom is, how awesome she is, how spiritual she is. She can never teach a man to be a man,” he said.

Lewis said one of the reasons he decided to retire this year was to be sure he could attend every one of the college football games played by his son, an incoming freshman at Miami named Ray Lewis III.