The list of the keynote speakers who have addressed the McCormick Unsung Heroes banquet is as illustrious as it is long. Inspirational figures, both inside and out of the world of sports have imparted words of wisdom to the honored student-athletes for more than three-quarters of a century, and the speaker for 77th edition of the event, which will take place in May, may be as inspiring as any who have come before.
Baltimore Ravens’ football legend Ray Lewis, perhaps the most dominant defensive player in the history of the NFL, will take the Unsung Hero dais next month.
“We are proud to have Ray Lewis address the student-athletes at this year’s Unsung Heroes banquet.” says Scott Robinson, McCormick’s Sr. Manager of Corporate Communications. “While one of the best to ever play the game of the football, his selflessness off the field and his tireless work with underserved youth in Baltimore’s communities, make him an inspiration and a great fit for the program.”
Lewis led the Ravens to victory in Super Bowl XXXV (where he was named Super Bowl MVP) and again in Super Bowl XLVII, in what would be the final game of his career. Lewis is only the second player in NFL history to win both the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl MVP awards in the same year (2000).
The Ravens’ all-time career leader in tackles and fumble recoveries, Lewis is also the only player in NFL history with at least 40 career sacks and over 30 interceptions. Lewis’ 13 Pro Bowl selections are tied for the fifth-most in the NFL by any player, and is the most by a linebacker. The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2000 and 2003), he played in 228 games including 11 playoff games. Lewis’s historic comeback to play in 2012 following a torn tricep injury secured him the record of the most tackles by one defender in any NFL post-season (51).
Lewis is also one of only six players to earn the AP Defensive Player of the Year Award multiple times (2000 and 2003). Named to the 2000’s All-Decade Team, Lewis was the second draft pick in Ravens history – the No. 26 pick overall in the 1996 NFL Draft.
Lewis follows University of Maryland Women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese and fellow NFL legend Peyton Manning as the most recent Unsung Heroes keynote speakers. In the past the Ravens have also been represented by head coach John Harbaugh (2010) and former head coach Brian Billick (2005), both whom coached Lewis during his career. Other NFL legends have included Fran Tarkenton, Bart Starr and Roger Staubach, as well as Baltimore Colts legends Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Artie Donovan and Don Shula.
Olympians Jesse Owens and Mary Lou Retton, broadcasters James Brown and Dick Vitale, authors Wes Moore and Frank Deford, and others such Baltimore Orioles’ legend Brooks Robinson, Dr. Ben Carson and Coach Herman Boone (Remember the Titans) among many others have also spoken to the Unsung Heroes.
“Ray Lewis joins a long list of storied individuals who have addressed the honorees at our Unsung Heroes banquet,” added Robinson. “From Johnny Unitas, to Vivian Stringer, Pam Shriver and Jesse Owens, we’ve been fortunate to have a roster of guest speakers over the years who deliver a positive message of teamwork, perseverance and selflessness that our student-athletes can relate to.”
Lewis spent his high school career playing for Kathleen High School in Florida. At Kathleen, Lewis was a standout wrestler and football player. During his four years at the school he led his squads to a bevy of state and city titles in football and wrestling. Lewis later went on to play for the University of Miami Hurricanes. At the end of his junior year, Lewis was named runner-up for the Butkus Award as the nation's best linebacker.
Lewis, who earned his undergraduate degree in Arts and Science in 2004 from the University of Maryland University College, is involved in charitable activities, motivational speaking, and mentoring. In May 2010, a portion of Baltimore’s North Avenue was renamed “Ray Lewis Way” in honor of his charitable work. Similar honors include a 2006 JB Award (named for CBS broadcaster James Brown) and an “Act of Kindness” Award for his community work. Today, Lewis devotes his time to being a father, businessman, and community activist.
Note: The McCormick Unsung Heroes banquet is a private event for the honored student-athletes and their invited guests. Tickets to this event are not available for public sale.