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Ray Lewis will remain in Baltimore area to calm violence, won't work draft for ESPN

Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was supposed to provide analysis for ESPN on the defensive players in the draft. Instead, he'll stay home and try to help out a struggling city.

Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was planning to head to Chicago this week to be a part of ESPN's broadcast of the NFL draft, which starts on Thursday night.

However, Lewis has decided to stay in Baltimore where he'll try help stop violence in the city following the death of Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal cord injury while he was in police custody last week.

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"I felt that it was more important for me to stay in Baltimore and try to help the city I love," Lewis said in a statement released by ESPN. "I greatly appreciate ESPN's understanding and flexibility at this late date. I did not feel right leaving the city at this time."

Lewis, who played 17 years for the Ravens in an expected Hall of Fame career, earlier in the day made a passionate plea on his Facebook page to stop the violence.

Lewis still lives in the Baltimore area and has vowed to do his part to help the situation.

"Few athletes are as connected to a city as Ray is to Baltimore, having played his entire career there and based on all the work he has done in that community," said ESPN senior coordinating producer Seth Markman. "While we will miss him at the draft, we completely support him in this decision and we hope his involvement will help resolve the situation there."

ESPN's front office insider Louis Riddick will take Lewis' place on Thursday's broadcast of the first round, joining Chris Berman, Jon Gruden and Mel Kiper Jr.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jeffzrebiecsun

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