theGrio’s 100: Ray Lewis, feared linebacker calling shots off the field

Who is Ray Lewis?

The recently-retired Baltimore Raven is widely hailed as one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history. He recently capped a stellar career with his second Super Bowl victory in January of 2013. Back in 2000, he accomplished a rare feat, becoming one of the only defensive players to take home the MVP award in that season’s championship game. Besides being a legend on the gridiron, Lewis was legendary for being a motivational leader on the sidelines and in the locker room. His occasionally profane pep talks are both stirring and intense.

Why is he on theGrio’s 100?

Having gone out on top, Lewis made the transition from player to professional sports commentator for ESPN this year. He joined the esteemed crew at ESPN and he now offers insightful and colorful commentary about the game he loves. “ESPN is such a big part of how fans watch and experience sports, especially the NFL, so I’m excited to join their team,” Lewis said in March. “I’m ready to bring the same level of passion to this next phase of my life as I brought to the field during my years as a player. I can’t wait to work with my new teammates, many of whom I’ve already known for years.”

What’s next for Lewis?

Lewis is now a firmly established fixture on the Monday Night Football team. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year is also considered a lock to make the NFL Hall of Fame (he’s already been honored by the Ravens). He remains very opinionated and intense when it comes to the challenges of being a defensive player in the NFL. He even recently offered to personally pay a fine for current player Ahmad Brooks, which he felt was undeserved. The offer was turned down.