What are the crazy chances that Grandview Prep’s boys basketball team receives a random pep talk from Ray Lewis via speakerphone before its Class 2A state semifinal?
Yet that’s precisely what happened Tuesday afternoon, according to Grandview coach Joe Dawson and players.
As the postgame press conference of Grandview’s 63-49 win against Jacksonville North Florida Educational Institute was about to wrap-up, Dawson recounted a story of a chance encounter that led to a better pregame talk than Dawson could have conceived in his dreams.
According to Dawson, the team was preparing to leave its hotel for The Lakeland Center when they ran into the Baltimore Ravens/former Miami Hurricanes linebacker’s mother, Sunseria “Buffy” Smith, in the lobby. She asked why they were in town. They told her they were here for the boys basketball state semifinals, but weren’t sure how they’d fare against the state’s top-ranked team.
“The Baltimore Ravens got it done,” Dawson recalled Smith saying. “And one of our parents was like, ‘Yeah, but we don’t have Ray Lewis.’”
That’s when Smith revealed Lewis, who grew up in Lakeland and attended Lakeland Kathleen High School, was her son, and suggested she get him on the phone to talk to the team.
“He called us, was on speaker, and gave one of the best motivational talks to our team,” Dawson said. “As a coach, I couldn’t ask for anything better to get our kids motivated. They hear me 365 dayas a year, but to hear a Hall of Famer like that talk to our kids was really something special. We’re going to try to get him on the line tomorrow, so we’ll see.”
Said senior guard Eric Mance: “He spoke about keeping your composure, staying together as a team and working hard. The basis was you’re only good as your worst player, so we all need to stick together…basically teamwork. He harped on teamwork and staying fired up and [playing with] passion, and go out there and leave nothing on the court.”