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NFL Linebacker Ray Lewis Returns to Baltimore, Holds News Conference on Atlanta Murder Trial

Aired June 9, 2000 - 1:12 p.m. ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Live picture now. This is Ed Garland, the attorney for Ray Lewis. Ray Lewis about to meet with reporters there. This is in Owings Mills, Maryland, northwest of Baltimore. That's where the Ravens practice -- practice, anyway, for the summer months. Ray Lewis, again, set to meet with reporters any minute now. Let's see if, indeed, he is stepping up to the podium now. Indeed he is.

As the trial continues in Atlanta, Ray Lewis now live.

RAY LEWIS, BALTIMORE RAVENS: I guess I'll start off by saying good evening to everyone. But I think I'll say a couple of words first, then I'll give you guys a chance for questions.

But to speak totally honest to you, this is something that I really didn't want to do because of a lot of people who's here now. There's a lot of people who had negative things to say. But I've dealt with things like that through my life, so...

But like I said before, you know -- how I feel -- I'm tired, I'm exhausted. I've been through something in my life that I've never been through before. I've faced fourth downs and ones a lot of times and, you know, I have guys who know that I'm going to step up in that position. But when it's fourth down in life, you don't know what to do in that situation, and that's what happened when the police approached me and I gave a false statement to them. When you're dealing with fourth in life, you never know what you're going to do.

I'm angry, I'm mad at myself by the situation I've put my family in. I take all the responsibility for that -- my teammates, my fans, especially. While I was in jail, I received so much mail that was extremely well. I mean, that was one of my daily routines was to sit up and listen and read people what they wrote me in jail, you know. Two weeks of jail is hard.

Where I'm going from here? Back doing what I'm doing: playing football, enjoying what I do, showing kids that there's still a passion for the game even though you're falsely accused about certain things. My family has been with me the whole time. My momma's been there, my grandfather, my grandmother. Everybody's been there for me.

I mean, I can't tell you the support Art Modell gave me. I can't tell you the support Brian Billick gave me. I can't tell you the support that people have given me throughout this all. I just wish they could influence the district attorney that I was an innocent man before they accused me of all these charges.

Yes, I'm angry at Paul Howard, I'm angry at the prosecutors, true enough, because, from day one, you know, I tried to speak to him and tell him that I was an innocent man. I tried to give him what he wanted from day one. And this press conference right here might not even be going on.

But, everything is, to me, back to normal. If there's anything I would ask, the thing Art hit on a little bit, after this day -- I think it's almost impossible to ask you guys to do that -- but after this day, I mean, I just want this to rest. It's over. It's been going on since January -- these things in my life that I had to deal with, these things that took me to a totally different level in my life that I have never seen before.

And it's a feeling that I don't think I can express to no one what I've been through. I had a lot f people praying for me. I had a lot of people praying for me, I had a lot of people saying this and saying that. But I promise to the Lord that I would never wish this on my worst enemy to go through what I've been through, and I'm ready to put it behind me because he promised me better blessings after this is all over.

And, you know, if there's one thing I would tell you about -- the only thing I would tell you that really hurt me the most is when I was released from jail, my oldest child walked up to me, Ray III, and he asked me, Daddy, why did they have you in those chains? And I said, we was just playing, son. And one thing I never do is lie to my child about nothing. If Daddy says something, Daddy going to do it.

But that's all I want from you guys. I've always been a person who speaks to you guys freely about whatever you want to talk to me about. It doesn't matter if it's about kids, if it's about football, it's my blessing to give you anything that I have. I give you my best. But this is done this is a chapter that needs to be closed. After this is over, I'm ready to walk away from this. Because regardless of Ray Lewis being free of these charges, there's still two people dead and it's time, really, for violence to stop, but it's the world. And it just so happened that I fit into this puzzle. But -- and I wasn't ready for it, you know, and I take care of my own actions about being in certain places or who I deal with, and things like that.

So I guess I'll open it up for questions now.

QUESTION: Ray, what have you learned, personally, from these past five months?

LEWIS: I think what I honestly learned is that, you know, no matter who you are, no matter how much money you have, no matter who you think you know, if someone wants to accuse you of something, they will regardless. And I think the catch of that is, you have to understand, I think, me speaking to my fellow teammates and people around the league, is I think we have to understand the situations that can come about in certain areas. True enough, there has to be boundaries on us, but I guess we have to deal with it because that's the life we chose to be a professional athlete or whatever sport you deal with. But I think the most thing I've learned is just understanding that you have good people in your interest. At the same time, you have people that's not in your best interest.

QUESTION: Ray, how will you live your life differently?

QUESTION: Ray, do you feel you have anything in your lifestyle to change?

LEWIS: Do I feel I have anything in my lifestyle to change? I think if there's anything I will change in my lifestyle, it's just the choices I make; certain things. I've always been a guy who made great choices. I've always been a guy who just kept his head on focus. But everybody stumbles every once in a while. But I don't think it's about stumbling, I think it's about recovering and see where you go from there.

QUESTION: How concerned are you about the impact on your image?

LEWIS: I can't -- you know, I can't really worry about that because, honestly, if I received the same press over the whole time that I was accused of doing something now that I'm innocent, I think my image will come back easily.

QUESTION: Ray, can any good come out of this?

LEWIS: I think good can come out of anything bad. I think the Lord states that. You know, and I think what good has come out of this is it's more of an understanding of not just me, I think it's about people truly understanding and taking a good look at their selves in the mirror and saying, you know what? What Ray Lewis went through impacted on my life because Ray Lewis is going through it, so Ray Lewis is going to get something out of it regardless. But I think it's about the people who's around me. I think it's about how they're going to deal with what Ray Lewis went through and things like that.

HEMMER: Ray Lewis says he's tired and exhausted, and faced with "fourth down in life, you don't know what to do," in his words, admitting he gave false statements to police which led to the accusations that prosecutors here in Fulton County gave to Ray Lewis in regard to two murders on the night of the Super Bowl here in the city of Atlanta.

Ray Lewis says, "for now I go back to football." Summer practice starts very soon for the Baltimore Ravens. But, meanwhile, two co- defendants still on trial. In fact, closing arguments are under way today here in the city of Atlanta for Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, both charged with murder dating back to the night of January 30 into January 31, again, the night of the Super Bowl here.

The Baltimore Ravens open their season September 3 in Pittsburgh. Ray Lewis says he plans to be on the field when the Ravens take the field that day.



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