Baltimore's heart will always beat for No. 52

I have never met Ray Lewis, but I feel as if I know him. How many people say the same thing? My guess is that there are many. I wonder if there has ever been a professional sports legend who has bonded so intimately with the city he represents ("'My last ride,'" Jan. 3).

Has there ever been a person more passionate, more dedicated than the Ravens middle linebacker? Has there ever been a man — one man — who can have a city worship him and call him their own? And, yes, we can be candid here: The solitary thing he does not do well is dance. He is forgiven for that foible. Ray Lewis did not only contribute to winning games, he took a city on his shoulders and collectively raised the esteem of a metropolis that direly needed it. Take a walk in Baltimore and look at how many people wear a Ravens number 52 jersey. It crosses all cultures, religions and races. Amazing.

I get the feeling that the next chapter of his life story is going to be as compelling, challenging and rewarding as the past 17 years. It's the only way Ray knows how to go. He doesn't simply exist, he thrives by reaching out to others and sharing the gifts that make him "Ray Ray" to the legions.

Pushing that hallmark age of 60 and as a native Baltimore Countian, I have had a personal list of professional sports figures on the highest pantheon: Brooks Robinson and John Unitas. They now have to make way for a trio with the addition of Mr. Lewis.

Mr. Lewis, thank you for giving of yourself so passionately the past 17 years, on and off the playing field. Before your next endeavor, take a few minutes and think about the enormity of your impact on the great city of Baltimore and what your name means to others who may or not be football fans. What an amazing ride it has been!

Godspeed, Mr. Lewis.

Patrick R. Lynch, Nottingham

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