The depth of our legacy is one of the common struggles of man. “What will others say of us long after we are gone?”
This is the question that drives many of our thoughts and actions. We want to be remembered for something great and we want to be remembered long after we are gone. That is the single mission of most people – do something great that lasts beyond your lifetime. Ideally, we strive toward a mission of doing something bigger than ourselves – something driven of selfless gain that lasts long beyond our lifetime. No man save one had a perfect legacy, but many have forged incredible legacies that last generation after generation.
And the beauty of a legacy is that it is up to you and the actions you take that define it.
Thirteen years ago, Ray Lewis’ legacy was tarnished by his involvement in a double murder. Ray eventually plead guilty to obstruction of justice charges, but his role in the crime put a large negative spot on the dominating linebacker’s career. He had previously been involved in an assault case the year before and it looked like off-the-field issues may deter this promising player from fully achieving the “Greatest Ever” tag. But since that 2000 trial, Ray has been an upstanding citizen by all accounts. He has admitted to many mistakes - even obstructing the murder investigation in Atlanta – but he has also taken the necessary steps to put his life on a different, more positive course.
- Super Bowl MVP (dare we say he’ll earn another in two weeks?)
- 2x NFL Defensive Player of the Year
- 12x Pro Bowler
- Career commitment to one franchise
Ray Lewis is an ordained Christian minister and his foundation, "The Ray Lewis Foundation", helps to advance the lives of underprivileged and at-risk youth in Baltimore. Instead of wallowing in thepast, Ray has chosen to step out and change lives in an effort to rebuild his legacy and impact lives long after he has left the game of football.
“He is tireless in taking pictures with strangers – something many celebrities dislike. He is unfailingly accessible to the media – which many NFL players consider the enemy. He smiles and stops to help people.”
Now Ray Lewis will step onto a NFL field for the last time in this year’s Super Bowl. The entire city of Baltimore resting firmly on his shoulders as he spends the final sixty minutes of his professional career before walking away from the game to spend more time with his family. Many still point to the Atlanta crime scene in 2000, while others can’t help but brag about how much his positivity and influence has directly changed their lives for the better. To many, he is a man redeemed. For Ray, it is simply about others and impacting their lives to keep them on (or redirect them to) a positive path.
While many athletes appear and reappear in the headlines for criminal behavior or immature actions, Ray chose to learn from past mistakes and invest all of his energies into others. Our legacy, up to this point, may not be how we want our children and future generations to remember us. It may be scarred and full of subtle reminders where we fell short or where we let temptation influence us into poor actions. But today is a new day and the opportunity to write a new chapter in your life – a chapter that can ultimately be the foundation for your lasting legacy. It is the best of opportunities to compete for what you want to be remembered by and who you want to impact long after you are gone from the game of life.
You determine your legacy by what you choose to compete for. Remember that – and make this life count.