Ray Lewis III's voice has a familiar poise and confidence.
Like his father, he can roll words off his tongue with ease. Being at ease in the moment is part of being Ray Lewis' oldest son.
The NFL Ray will lead the Baltimore Ravens against the San Francisco 49ers during the Super Bowl XLVII tonight. He has passed on many gifts to his children. The ability to remain calm in a harsh spotlight is one of many that has been tested during the past two weeks.
Television networks constantly blast stories about Ray Lewis the former Miami Hurricane, Ray Lewis the man who was once in the middle of a double-murder trial, Ray Lewis the man who does those crazy field entrances before every game, Ray Lewis the philanthropic revolutionary, Ray Lewis the preacher and Ray Lewis the man linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
They seem to always forget Ray Lewis the father.
"It's different, he's always been in the spotlight, but now it's Ray Lewis, Ray Lewis, Ray Lewis, Ray Lewis … all the time," said Ray Lewis III, who is a top-notch athlete in his own right at Lake Mary Prep and will begin his career at the University of Miami this summer. "Now it's questions, questions, questions … normally those questions are spread out, but with all this focus on him now, all the questions are coming at one time."
Ray Lewis III got to witness the craziness on Tuesday at the annual Super Bowl media day frenzy.
"I don't know how those guys even answer some of those questions. It was just … it was crazy," he said.
He takes being the son of such a media magnet in stride.
"I'm used to people asking questions about him. I'm used to handling the situation," he said. "It's not that I would necessarily say it gets annoying, because I understand that people are curious. If my icon from some other sport or something … if I knew his son, I'd be curious about his life and maybe asking him questions, too. I understand where people are coming from."
He also understands he's going to be the target of hate. He will hear it from time-to-time, but he said there has never been a time when he felt like he needed to rush to the defense of his father or his family's character.
"I've gotten all kinds of comments, but I'm not letting that get to me to the point where I've felt upset," Ray Lewis III said. "When you hear it, you just keep on going. Retaliating is not going to do anything for you, to be honest."
He always says that his dad might be this big iconic football hero to a lot of people, or a hated villain in the eyes of many others, but for Ray Lewis III, "He's just my dad."
Ray Lewis III loves being one of the few people who know the father side of Ravens' star Ray Lewis.
"He's a normal father when he's at home. He's nothing like what people would expect," Ray Lewis III said. "I get those questions all the time, 'Is your dad like that at home? Does he give you a lot of speeches?' … My dad is a normal father.
"My dad is like he is on the field because that's his job. That's what people do when they play football. You're supposed to play football pissed off. But when he comes home, he's dad. If I do something wrong, we just have a conversation about it. He'll just ask me, 'why did you do that or what was the logic behind that.'"
Ray Lewis III doesn't live with his father, who is in Baltimore for most of the NFL season. Ray Lewis has a house in Boca Raton, about 2 and a 1/2 hours from Lake Mary, but he sees his children as often as he can.
So Ray Lewis III learned at a young age it was going to be up to him to help be the man of the house so his mother, Tatyana McCall, didn't have to take on the full brunt of all the responsibilities. He knew he was going to have to help make sure younger brothers Rashaan (12) and Rayshad (14) had someone there for them.
“He comes here when he can but I do have to be that man of the house. … I just try to help get them back and forth to their practices or to school," says big brother. "I pick up, take, if they need rides I do that so my mom doesn’t have to do everything herself. I stay on them to clean their rooms, stuff like that … I guess I did kind of have to do that at kind of a young age.”
His next test will be proving he can handle the burden of expectations at the University of Miami. Ray Lewis III already has proven he's a special athlete, racking up almost 10,000 yards of all-purpose yardage as a running back in his career at Lake Mary Prep.
"I know my dad did leave a great legacy at the University of Miami and in the NFL," said Ray Lewis III, whose position at UM will be decided after he enrolls at the school. "I realize I'm following in his footprints, but I'm also trying to lead my own path. I know going to Miami, though, wasn't necessarily ideal for that . . . but my dad and mom always try to preach to me to lead your own path."
His father's NFL path comes to an end today. The last time the Ravens' Ray Lewis was in the Super Bowl, he hoisted the MVP trophy. Ray Lewis III was five years old. He would like to see that again. This time it would be better etched in his memory.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun