By Grelan Muse Sr.
Pew Talk Radio
NEW ORLEANS, La. – Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis won a Super Bowl with his team on Feb. 3, but the win is not the only accolade the now retired three-time defensive player of the year earned in New Orleans.
On Feb. 1, Lewis was honored with the Lifetime of Inspirations award during the 14th Super Bowl Gospel Celebration. The event was held at Lakefront Arena at University of New Orleans.
An extremely emotional Lewis accepted the award from his eldest son, Ray Lewis III. The all-pro was joined on stage by his two daughters, younger sons, and his mother, Sunseria Jenkins.
Lewis shared with the audience the importance God plays in his life and the relationship he has built with his family. He discussed a conversation he had with his biological father that changed his life.
“One day I went on a six-hour ride with my biological father. I wanted my dad to tell me all the things he had to say to me that he didn’t tell me as a child and all the pain he had within him. I wanted to hear it. After that, we put it in the past. Now, we have a better relationship.”
Lewis said the move also helped him become a better father to his children.
“I encourage you all to be responsible for rearing their children and teaching them respect. Be a parent and not just their friend.”
The bond Lewis has with Jenkins has always been his strength. He said he started lifting weights at an early age to become strong enough protect her from an abusive relationship.
Lewis is only the second person the celebration has honored. He joins former NFL coach and current Sunday Night Football analysis Tony Dungy as the other award winner.
The NFL-sanctioned gospel celebration featured a star-studded show with Grammy winner Fantasia as the headlining act. The singer said it was a blessing to be able to appear in the show.
“My life has been up and down. I had to make God the center of my life. Doing so, I had to go back to my foundation, the church and singing gospel music and re-establish the relationship I had with God,” Fantasia told Pew Talk Radio during a brief interview on the red carpet. She attended the event with her mother, Diana Barrino.
Additional performers included Donnie McClurkin, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Lecrea, Myron Butler, and Pastor Marvin Winans. Kirk Franklin will serve as host of the music portion, with “The View” co-host Sherri Shepherd as MC for the event.
The NFL Players Choir also performed selections for the audience. The choir, in its sixth year of existence, includes former and current NFL players and coaches.