Five years after a fairy tale ending to a legendary career, Baltimore Ravens icon Ray Lewis celebrates his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this week. The enshrinement ceremony is set for Saturday in Canton, Ohio. The retired NFL star along with other football greats such as Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher and Terrell Owens will received the highest honor in football.
"Everything I've ever been through in life I realize one thing, I had to get through [it] to get to that moment," Lewis told NBC 6 Anchor Jawan Strader in an exclusive interview. "People say, 'you know you was a shoo-in'. Really? I know I gave everything that I have to get in that hall.
The retired linebacker said it was surreal the day NFL icon Jim Brown knocked on his door to welcome him into the Hall of Fame family. That day was a moment of vindication for the former Hurricanes player.
"I know the road was so rocky on the way there that nobody was going to steal my moment of appreciation," Lewis passionately said.
Even though Lewis has achieved what every football player dreams of, he said he has so much work to do in low-income minority communities across the U.S. and here in South Florida, where he calls home.
He has partnered with community leaders and a number of companies to launch an organization called Global 1000. The initiative helps minorities find jobs.
"We're in the greatest fight of our lives right now. And, if we don't stop promising them programs because programs don't do nothing," Lewis explained. "I once studied quarterback and running back numbers. Who rushed for the most yards? But, now I'm studying homicides, suicides and rapes. I'm studying numbers that I don't see nobody paying attention to."
Lewis, who grew up poor in Lakeland, said he is crushed by the gun violence plaguing black communities.
"Man, us as black people we killing each other at an alarming rate," Lewis cried out.
Through Global 1000, which has branches in Miami, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles and Ferguson, the NFL champ hopes to change the narrative in these underserved communities.
"I want to find that next gem that will affect his community," Lewis said.
On and off the football field, Lewis has been vocal with his Christian beliefs. He makes it known that his overall mission is to "put God back on the throne and put women back in a place where their voices are heard."
Global 1000 holds hiring events several times throughout the year in Miami. Job seekers are matched up with potential employers and most times are hired on the spot. The organization also helps people with criminal records get through the expungement process.
"Everything I've learned, all of the do's and don'ts, I want to share with them," Lewis explained. "I walked this path for a reason because I saw so many give it up."
You can search for jobs anytime on the Global 1000 website.