Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, right, chats with wide receiver… (Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth…)
With tears rolling down his cheek, Ray Lewis said he hopes his street will symbolize a "way" of life.
The Ravens' Pro Bowl middle linebacker then walked outside in the rain and unveiled a red sign at the corner of North Avenue and Broadway in Baltimore that reads, "Ray Lewis Way #52."
"If Ray Lewis Way does nothing else, just look up instead of looking down," Lewis said. "If the street does nothing else but make you look up in life and say he did it differently, let that be the goal."
Lewis ended his impassioned speech by saying, "Baltimore, I can say many things, but I love you with every inch of my soul."
The hourlong ceremony culminated with Lewis unveiling the sign (which has a red background and white lettering) that is just a short pass from the Diakon Center, where Lewis and his charitable foundation host an annual Thanksgiving distribution for nearly 1,000 Baltimore families in need. The Ray Lewis Foundation is a non-profit tax-exempt corporation whose mission is to provide personal and economic assistance to disadvantaged youth.
A crowd of about 100 people attended the event and about 40 children from nearby Harford Heights Elementary School huddled around the podium. The Gospel Ravens performed, and Lewis sang along with them at times.
Others in attendance included: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, city council president Bernard "Jack" Young and councilman Carl Stokes.
"This is a tremendous day for Baltimore," Rawlings-Blake said. "In the future, this street will be known as a place where we celebrated someone who made a big difference in the lives of people in Baltimore."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh talked about how Lewis makes such an impact in the lives of players around the NFL, saying he has more phone numbers and texts than anyone else in the league.
Harbaugh also led the children in a "Ravens" cheer.
"In the 1996, the Ravens and Ray Lewis first came to town," Harbaugh told the children. "Think that's why they became the Ray-vens."
Lewis, who turns 35 on Saturday, also had his mother, Sunseria Smith, and teenage son, Ray Lewis III, beside him.
"This is a very humbling moment for my father," Lewis III said. "Even though people think he's a monster on the football field, he actually wants to help people. This [street] will be here forever. Now, people can come back and see Ray Lewis actually made a difference in people's lives outside the football field."
Lewis III added: "I would like to follow in his footsteps. One day I do have a dream of going in the NFL, but I also have a dream of making a difference in people's lives outside the football field."
The Ravens haven't received any information on Jared Gaither's magnetic resonance imaging, a team official said.
Gaither missed the final two days of minicamp practice because of foot and toe injuries and will see a specialist this week. He told the Ravens that this isn't a protest for the team moving him from left to right tackle.
The severity of the injuries wasn't previously known by the Ravens because Gaither only participated in two days of the offseason workout program.
But the Ravens continue to insist that they would only trade Gaither if they received proper value for him.
Ray in training
Lewis' illustrious career has been built on his intense offseason training, from kickboxing to wrestling to swimming.
For his 15th NFL season, he decided to change up his regimen. Lewis took up Kenpo, a name for multiple martial arts that developed in Hawaii.
"I'm not fitting to go into mixed martial arts," Lewis said with a laugh. "I don't like getting hit in the face and all that."
A friend serves as his sensei. The result of this training has been increased his flexibility and focus.
Lewis, who is currently at 252 pounds, said he is comfortable with this weight and wants to maintain that throughout the season.
"Every year I'm always trying to find a different way to take my body through confusion, and I did a great job with it," Lewis said.
Lewis is the second-oldest Raven, although some coaches wouldn't believe that. Before the team's first minicamp of the offseason, Lewis was laughing Harbaugh, saying how he was so excited for practice to begin.
"I hope that never changes," Harbaugh said. "That's probably why he's been in the league so long … that and a lot of talent."
Troy Smith on trade request
Ravens backup quarterback Troy Smith addressed his offseason trade requests for the first time at minicamp, saying, "My time will come. I love it here."
Smith's agent at the time, Ralph Cindrich, first requested a trade in December.
"There's two things you can't get back in this situation, and that's your relationship you form with the guys and the bond can be unbreakable," Smith said. "These guys are special to me and we're going to do great things."
Smith changed agents on March 23, switching to Neil Cornrich. He acknowledged that it was time for a new direction.