NFL quarterbacks probably rejoiced when Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced his retirement after the playoffs, but they're not the only ones happy about the decision. His son Ray Lewis III is pretty psyched about it, too.
Orlando Sentinel scribe Chris Hays caught up with the Lake Mary (Fla.) Prep athlete, who will follow in his father's footsteps to the University of Miami after totaling roughly 9,000 yards and 100 touchdowns in his prep football career.
"For me it means he'll be around more to see my college games and be involved in my life even more and stuff like that," said the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Lewis III, known as Lil' Ray.
"Many fans love him and might be disappointed about him retiring or whatever else they might be saying and different things like that, but to me he’s just dad," he added. "I don’t really look at him as this big athlete or this huge sports figure. To me, he's just my dad."
After a senior season in which he led the Griffins to an 11-0 record before losing to Warner Christian (South Daytona, Fla.) High in the Class 2A regional finals, Lewis III is currently practicing for Friday's Semper Fi All-American Game at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. That might be the final game his NFL dad misses.
''God is calling,'' the elder Lewis told reporters as the Ravens prepare for a first-round playoff matchup against the rival Indianapolis Colts. ''My children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their father for 17 years. I don't want to see them do that no more. I've done what I wanted to do in this business, and now it's my turn to give them something back.
''It's either (that or) hold onto the game and keep playing and let my kids miss out on times we can be spending together. Because I always promised my son if he got a full ride on scholarship Daddy is going to be there, I can't miss that.''
The surefire NFL Hall of Famer, who spends his offseasons in Boca Raton, Fla., has another son, Rayshad Lewis, who played running back and defensive back for Lake Mary Prep as a freshman this past fall.
“I could never say I would do it any differently because of what I had the opportunity to do, and that’s to see my babies go out,” said Lewis. “Me being who I am and not having a father myself, that damaged me a lot. I didn’t want my kids to relive that.”
Once the Ravens either lose or deliver Lewis a golden Super Bowl parachute, father can take his sons through the workouts that helped the 37-year-old last 17 years at one of the most punishing positions in the NFL.
"I can't wait to get started doing some more college-type workouts with my dad," Lewis III told the Sentinel. "He'll be around even more now to help me in getting prepared. It will be nice."