Profile shot of Ray Lewis
Keith Allison/Flickr

First of all, for those who don’t know who Ray Lewis is, he’s a future Hall of Fame middle linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. He is set to retire from football after 17 years in the league. But when I met him, in the summer of 2005 or 6 — I can’t quite remember which — it wasn’t his plays-of-the-year or his Super Bowl win that impressed; it was the time he took to give me a few encouraging words.

The Black Caucus was in town at the Washington Convention Center. I had heard that after the convention attendees would be dining at the 701 restaurant on 7th Street by the Archives-Navy Memorial Metro station. I knew that would be a good time to see some famous celebrities and panhandle a few bucks. Of course this was before I was introduced to Street Sense.

I was sitting in front of the restaurant on a small wall, watching the celebrities exit their limousines to go inside. I sat there with my cup asking, “Can you spare a little change?”

None of the people took time to even acknowledge me. Then a car pulled up and three men got out. One walked up to me and said, “What’s up big slim?”

At first I didn’t recognize the face. He then put his hand out to give me a handshake. During the handshake he put a $100 bill in my hand and said, “Keep your head up, God’s got you.”

Then with I realized with amazement, “Ray Lewis! Can I get your autograph?”

As he started to walk away with the other two men who I did not recognize, he said, “If you’re here when I come back I’ll give it to you, but remember – God’s got you.” He walked into the restaurant. I sat there for about an hour waiting for Mr. Lewis to come out — still shaking my cup asking for space change. After about an hour, I went on my way.

Mr. Lewis was the only one of the celebrities that gave me money that day. Yes, the money was good to have, but that one or two minutes that he took out of his time to spend with a homeless man like myself meant a lot to me.

As I’ve been reading about his retirement, I found out that he does a lot of charity work, not just for the homeless, but for people in general. I’m not a Baltimore Ravens fan, but I’m a big fan of Ray Lewis.