Born as Ray Jenkins on May 15, 1975, in Bartow, Florida, his father was absent for almost all of his childhood. Disgusted by his father's inability to be there for his family, Ray decided to take the name of his mother's boyfriend, Lewis, as Ray entered high school.
As a young kid, Ray quickly became the man of the house in the replacement of his biological father. He was the older brother to four younger siblings, helping get his younger brother to daycare on time and he'd even help his sisters with their hair.
In high school, Lewis was a standout wrestler and football player. Many thought he was on the smaller side for the linebacker position, which was true, but Lewis overcame this stereotype with an unmatched work ethic and inability to give up.
He eventually earned a full scholarship to the University of Miami, at the time, one of the best programs in college football. He went on to break the school single-season tackle record twice. After his junior year, he was runner-up for the best linebacker in the nation, the Butkus Award. After the 1995 season, he entered the NFL draft, getting drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens.
Lewis quickly became a franchise player, staying with the Ravens for all 17 years of his pro career. He led the club in tackles during his rookie season and in 2000 and 2003 the league named Lewis it's Defensive Player of the Year (one of six players to earn this award multiple times).
Despite not having a father figure for much of his life, battling poverty, and lacking size on the football field, Lewis found a way to the top with a relentless determination and unparalleled work ethic. He clearly didn't take no for an answer and didn't allow for his situation at the time to get the most of him.