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NFL linebacker Ray Lewis is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Super Bowl MVP and played his entire 17-year career with the Baltimore Ravens.
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The news rallied a Ravens team that had faltered at the end of the regular season and helped steer the franchise to big victories over Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos and Tom Brady's New England Patriots. Lewis played his final football game on February 3, 2013, in New Orleans, Louisiana; in Super Bowl XLVII, the Ravens went head to head against the San Francisco 49ers, and won, 34 to 31. At age 37,
Lewis had finalized his career with a second Super Bowl victory. "How could it end any other way than that?" he said to interviewers after the game, adding, "And now I get to ride into the sunset with my second ring ... Baltimore! Baltimore! We coming home, baby! We did it!"
But for all his big game talent, Lewis's reputation will forever be marred by his connection to a gruesome double murder outside an Atlanta nightclub in the early morning hours of January 31, 2000. Atlanta had played host to Super Bowl XXXIV and the game, which Lewis attended, had concluded just hours before.
The details of what happened that night have never truly been sorted out. What is known is that at some point a fight broke out involving Lewis's entourage that left two young men dead. Lewis, who was fingered in the tragedy, was jailed for 11 days and indicted with two others in the murders.
At the outset of the investigation Lewis lied to police and said he didn't know his two co-defendants. Many felt that Lewis had something to hide but key evidence, including a blood stained white suite that might have linked Lewis to the deaths, was never recovered.
In the end, Lewis struck a plea bargain. In return for having the murder and aggravated and assault charges dropped, Lewis pled guilty to one count of obstruction of justice and agreed to testify against his two friends, both of whom were eventually acquitted. Lewis was also sentenced to one year of probation.
While managing to escape the wrath of the law, the NFL showed its displeasure over the situation by fining Lewis $250,000 at the start of the 2000 season.
In the years after the murders, Lewis turned his life and image around, helped in no small part by leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory just 12 months after his arrest.
Lewis has spoken little about the case. But in a 2010 interview with the Baltimore Sun, he said, "I'm telling you, no day leaves this Earth without me asking God to ease the pain of anybody who was affected by that whole ordeal." he said. "He's a God who tests people—not that he put me in that situation, because he didn't make me go nowhere. I put myself in that situation."
In early 2013, Lewis faced accusations that he used deer antler, a controversial dietary supplement banned by the NFL. Deer antler reportedly contains a high concentration of insulin-like growth factor, which, much like the human growth hormone, promotes faster recovery throughout the body.
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