When Ray Lewis stepped onto the stage at the Student Activity Center Wednesday night, he was welcomed by a frenzied applause from UM students and faculty. Before his arrival, a highlight reel played, showcasing the passion and energy with which he played throughout his career at Miami and in the NFL – not that anyone needed reminding.
Lewis, who ended his 17-year professional football career this year, was a standout linebacker for the Hurricanes from 1993-1995 (he forwent his senior season to enter the NFL draft). He reminded students of the love he still feels for his alma mater during the event, titled “An Evening with Ray Lewis”, which was sponsored by Student Government and Hurricane Productions.
“I stepped onto the University of Miami campus [for the first time], and I looked around and I said, ‘everything that’s around me is opportunity. I got a real chance now,’” Lewis said.
When giving advice to the student audience, Lewis reflected on his own time at UM, and noted some things he would’ve done differently.
“If I was 20 again, the first thing I would tell myself is to slow down,” Lewis said. “Make decisions much slower than when I was 20. I made a lot of fast decisions; I became a father very fast.”
Lewis spent the majority of the event answering questions from the audience, resulting in a conversational tone from the two-time Super Bowl champion. Although much of the discussion included Biblical references – Lewis is strongly influenced by his Christian faith – his unique perspective was applicable to anyone.
He encouraged his fellow Canes to develop a 3-year plan for their futures, and to hold those goals as a constant daily reminder of one’s purpose.
Lewis indulged the audience with a few questions relating to his football career, but he always related the sport back to the life lessons it has taught him.
“My Super Bowl moment wasn’t actually when I was in the Super Bowl; my Super Bowl moment was in days when people never saw me, because there were some things I was doing underneath that nobody knew about,” Lewis said. “Those [moments] are the things that define us when you become a champion, because only you know what your journey was about — only you know the sacrifices you’ve made.”
words_trevor maxim. photos_karli evans.