MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- WREG has some straight talk for the teens of Memphis from a future Hall of Famer who almost lost it all.
Ray Lewis hung up his cleats a year ago. Now, the former linebacker is tackling issues off the field, especially those that affect children.
He sat down one-on-one with WREG’s Stephanie Scurlock and shared what he hopes they can learn from his life and his mistakes.
When Lewis arrives at Andy B’s in Bartlett, you can easily tell he still has that superstar following, and now he’s using that star power to help children. WREG caught up with him on a recent trip to Memphis to help raise money for St. Jude.
“It's like St. Jude there's so many connections to what they have and so many people they can affect. By me coming here partnering with them just brings more awareness to that and raises money,” said Lewis.
Since his retirement a year ago, Lewis has a lot more time to lend his name and fame to charity. He can’t speak specifically to Memphis because he’s not here, but in the city of Baltimore where he lives, there are similar problems and issues. He spends a lot of time focusing on kids, especially troubled teens.
“They don't how to accept love or embrace love or even not just love. They don't know how to embrace hard criticism, so you see them straying away so quickly. They go to gangs so quickly because they’re looking for some type of brotherhood, some type of something but it ain't the right thing,” said Lewis.
Lewis speaks from personal experiences. He doesn’t talk specifics about the moment it clicked for him, but in 2000, he was at a Super Bowl party in Atlanta when life took a drastic turn.
The all-star linebacker was with two of his buddies. They got caught up in a murder investigation after a fight at a strip club. The three were charged with murder.
Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in exchange for his testimony against his friends. In the end, those friends were acquitted.
Lewis said, “I didn't say I was perfect. Never perfect, but I chose to do things right.”
Lewis says teens today can learn from him.
“I think situations, maturity really got me to a point to where I was like, I'm not better than you but me and you ain't going to the same places so let me do something different. I'll speak to you. We're still cool and that's the connect that sometimes these guys can't let go of,” said Lewis
Lewis went on to become Super Bowl MVP the next year after escaping the murder charge. He ended his career on a high note with yet another Super Bowl win, but Lewis stresses to kids winning in life is more important than winning on the field.
"Remember there will be a lot of distractions so you got to make the right choices. You won't always make all the right choices but you've got to make the majority of them right,” said Lewis.