OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Ray Lewis spent 17 seasons deftly patrolling the middle of the football field and serving as an inspirational leader for the Baltimore Ravens.
Now he's poised and eager to become a full-time dad.
Lewis announced Wednesday that he will end his brilliant NFL career after the Ravens complete their 2013 playoff run.
Lewis has been sidelined since Oct. 14 with a torn right triceps. The 13-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker intends to return Sunday to face the Indianapolis Colts in what will almost certainly be his final home game.
"Everything that starts has an end," Lewis said. "For me, today, I told my team that this will be my last ride."
Lewis will walk away from the game because he wants to spend more time with his sons. While working to return from his injury, Lewis watched two of his boys play on the same high school football team. He intends to see Ray Lewis III perform as a freshman next year for the University of Miami, where the elder Lewis starred before the Ravens selected him in the first round of the 1996 NFL draft.
"God is calling," the 37-year-old Lewis said. "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."
That's why Lewis will pull off his No. 52 uniform for the last time after the Ravens lose or claim their second Super Bowl title.
"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," Lewis said. "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."
Lewis was the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2000, when Baltimore won the Super Bowl title, and in 2003.
"I never played the game for individual stats. I only played the game to make my team a better team," he said.
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