Just as the Super Bowl returns to Atlanta after 19 years, so will Ray Lewis, who, in 2000 was arrested for stabbing two men to death.
Ray Lewis is returning to Atlanta for this year’s Super Bowl almost two decades after a double murder occurred in the city involving him and his two friends, Joseph Sweeting, and Reginald Oakley.
Lewis and his friends were arrested outside a bar in Atlanta after they reportedly stabbed to death two victims, Jacinth Baker and Richard Loller. One of the victims’ blood was found in his limo.
Lewis pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of justice and offered to testify against Sweeting and Oakley. The serious charges against him were dropped leaving him with a one-year probation and a $250,000 fine. He also settled with the families of the victims. Meanwhile, Sweeting and Oakley were acquitted.
For years after his arrest, Lewis has been trying to rebuild his reputation. Two years ago, the 43-year-old NFL Hall of Famer launched a foundation that puts his reputation to good use and promotes healing. His Ray of Hope Foundation is designed to solicit inspirational videos from celebrities and athletes so they can be sent to people in need.
To raise money for his foundation, Lewis is back in Atlanta for his Gold Jacket Party for a Purpose which will be held on February 1 at the Porsche Experience Center. The benefit event lures professional athletes and celebrities and draws inspiration from Lewis’ main goal of helping others.
“Purpose is forever. The game comes and goes but purpose is forever,” the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker told The Associated Press.
NFL notables Jim Brown, Deion Sanders, Ed Reed, and Eddie George are expected to grace the occasion. So will current players Grady Jackson and Austin Hooper of the Atlanta Falcons.
Lewis is passionate about his cause and even spoke about it to the publication.
"That's the glory of it, man. That's the excitement of where I'm starting to move in the second half of my life, figuring out my greatest ability is access because of my reputation, because of my name, because of my brand. I want to use it to bring people together, so I use it."
This will be the first time Lewis will be stepping foot in Atlanta for the Super Bowl since the murders despite having returned in the past years to visit his sisters. More importantly, this will also be the first time since 2000 when the Super Bowl will again be hosted in the city. There was an ice storm in 2000 that dampened the festivities prompting NFL officials to reconsider ever staging the Super Bowl there again.
Today, Atlanta boasts of a new $1.5 billion stadium where the 2019 Super Bowl will kick off on February 3 and the Los Angeles Rams will be playing against the New England Patriots. Half-time Entertainment will be provided by Maroon 5 and Travis Scott while Gladys Knight will be singing the National Anthem.
As for Lewis, he’s just glad to be able to use this event and his influence to make a difference in other people’s lives.
“It’s a really simple thing, but it’s more important than you could ever imagine. Messages of hope connect people from all over the world that are experiencing some sort of pain. You take an influential role model to inspire them for a lasting impact.”
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