Ray Lewis’ Legacy Proves Racism in America

The Baltimore Ravens’ all-pro linebacker Ray Lewis announced last week that he will retire from the NFL at the end of the 2012-13 playoffs.  Lewis confirmed this after returning from a tricep tear that sidelined him for most of the past season.

Lewis’ NFL accomplishments and accolades lead many to believe that he is one of the best linebackers of all time.  Lewis has been selected to 13 Pro Bowls and been named an Associated Press All-Pro 10 times.  He won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2000 and 2003; he was the sixth player to win the award multiple times.  He was also the second linebacker to win the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award and the first linebacker to win the award on the winning Super Bowl team.

The legacy that Ray Lewis leaves proves that racist thoughts still exist in this country even to this day.  Here’s why.

Following a Super Bowl XXXIV party in Atlanta on January 31, 2000, a fight broke out between Lewis and his companions and another group of people, resulting in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar.  Lewis and his two companions were indicted on murder and aggravated-assault charges.  The white suit Lewis was wearing the night of the killings has never been found.

Lewis’ attorneys negotiated a plea agreement, where the murder charges against Lewis were dismissed in exchange for his testimony against his two companions.  Lewis was only charged with a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice.  He got off.

However, no one will ever remember this about Ray Lewis, and some people never even knew that this ordeal took place.  His murder charge is not written in his legacy.  The same cannot be said about OJ Simpson.

OJ Simpson, one of the greatest running backs in the NFL of all times, was also charged with the murder of two people.  He, like Lewis, was not convicted for either murder and was a free man.  However, unlike Lewis, Simpson will only be remembered for his alleged involvement in his charged murders.  His legacy is not football at all, but is for committing a crime that he was not even convicted of.

The difference between Lewis and Simpson is not what they charged for, but for who they were charged for murdering.  Ray Lewis was charged for murdering two black men whereas Simpson was charged for murdering two white people.  The crimes are the same (and the caliber of player is likewise similar), however who the crime was committed against created two completely different media frenzies.  More media attention is devoted towards the Black athlete who commits a crime against a White person than any other crimes with a different racial scenario.  This is racist.

Other examples exist too:

  • When all-star Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was charged with raping a White woman, the media attention that was devoted to his case was gargantuan.  However when Ben Roethlisberger, 2-time super bowl champ, was charged with raping a White woman, the media attention was significantly less (most people forgot about the incident or has forgiven Ben for his possible misdeeds).  Neither were convicted of said crimes.
  • When Michael Jordan cheated on his Black wife, the news barely sparked the attention of even serious sports fans—most don’t even know about these incidents.  However, when Tiger Woods cheated on his White wife, the media attention reached a 10 out of 10, easily.  And both athletes are the best player in their respective sports and are equally famous.

It is clear that a players legacy can easily be tainted forever if you are a Black athlete that commits a crime against a White citizen.  Sports aren’t the culprit.  We as a society rely primarily on the media as representation of public opinion, and such outlets continue to blaspheme the names of any athletes that commit these types of crimes and forgive those that do not.  In a perfect world, all players would be treated the same despite who they commit a criminal act against (as weird as that sounds).

-Deshawn (@ShonJay714)

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Journalist and aspiring writer. Contact me at da.advocates@gmail.com


    • aguilla112
      January 11, 2013

      man, that’s a great point. I can definitely see where you are coming from. I can’t even say if I agree or disagree. definitely made me think though.

    • lpk
      January 27, 2013

      You missed a key point. Lewis’ two companions were both acquitted as it was clear that this was a case of self defense. If Lewis had not pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of justice, he would have been acquitted of the murder charges along with his companions. Baker and Lollar were not victims, they were the perpetrators that started the whole incident. Your OJ camparison and racism claims are, therefore, way off base.


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