By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
10:18 AM EDT, July 5, 2013
Retired Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis was unable to take part in a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro due to a foot injury and fever, according to the charitable organization, TackleKili.
Prior to the climb, TackleKili said that Lewis' fever spiked and his foot began swelling.
The mission organization for World Serve International and Pros for Africa, TackleKili said Lewis made the choice to not go forward with the climb due to his health.
"In the end, Ray’s decision was to let the team move on without him, rather than hold them back or put himself in a position where an injury which requires surgery could become even more complicated," TackleKili said in a statement. "As always, his team backed his play. So while Ray refocused his service to this cause at a lower altitude, his team began the ascent on behalf of those in desperate need of clean water."
Lewis is in Tanzania to raise money and awareness about the need for clean water in East Africa.
Prior to the climb, Lewis and a philanthropic team have been providing hearing aids to children in a nearby village as part of the TackleKili mission.
"Ray stood all day yesterday doing a hearing mission," Frank Gamble posted during a video summarizing the climb. "Last night he had a bad night, fevered and really rough. So, this morning when he woke up, the foot was killing him, years of injuries and all of that. So, we're going to miss him.
"I just say goodbye to him and told him we love him. He made a significant contribution financially to provide safe water to people. Even though we're not going to have Ray, we're going to have plenty of wonderful people. We're really looking forward to seeing what we can do as a team to make it to the top."
The trip includes Doug Pitt, the brother of actor Brad Pitt and a goodwill ambassador in Tanzania, and retired Pro Bowl Chicago Bears defensive lineman Tommie Harris. The climb is expected to be done by Sunday.
After realizing he wouldn't be able to make the climb to the highest summit of Africa at an elevation of 19,340 feet due to his injury, Lewis commented on the video about his support of the people of Africa.
"The greatest thing we have in life is called opportunity," Lewis said. "It's what you do with opportunity that will actually leave a lasting legacy. This team we put together to go impact lives after lives and lives and to touch people that may never know our names, but will remember our legacy because of what we did to bring clean water to the motherland back to unfortunate people to give them a second opporutnity to say, 'You know what somebody thought about us even when we didn't have an opporutnity to think about ourselves.'
"They never think about themselves. They only think about the next day. This group has thought about other people. They put all their pains aside. We came together to make the world a better place. Lets bless people and get to the top of that mountain. Nothing can stop us. All things are possible."
Lewis, 38, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year who retired after winning his second Super Bowl with the Ravens, now works for ESPN as a football analyst. He issued a statement last month about his involvement in the climb.
“In one month, I will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise money and awareness for clean water projects in East Africa," Lewis wrote. "I am so FIRED UP for this adventure, but until then, I need your help to bring clean water wells to thousands of children and families. Show your support by following my TackleKili journey, spreading the word, and donating to TackleKili.”