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February 06, 2013

For Crying Out Loud


When we are little we cry a lot. I can remember strategically bursting into tears when my mom would try to make me do things I didn't want to do.

"Waaaaaa! I don't wanna take a bath!" I would wail.

"But you're dirty," she would say.

Ultimately, she would prevail, of course. I was only 17, too weak to put up a fight.

The last time I remember fake crying was when my first wife told me she was leaving me. Visions of orgies danced through my head, so maybe those were real tears of joy. That was a long time ago.

Ray Lewis, a giant of a man and a vicious tackler, cries often. Every time they play the "Star Spangled Banner" the TV cameras search for Lewis, and bingo -- the tears begin to flow. He's not crying because Beyonce got caught lip-synching the song, folks. My guess is he's crying because he's so happy he's not in jail.

Lewis is treated like a saint by the media. He has lucrative endorsement deals. He's going to retire to a career with ESPN. He sprinkles every conversation with "my Lord" or "my God." The man can't eat a freaking slice of pizza without thanking the Lord.

On January 31, 2000 Ray Lewis was also playing in the Super Bowl, and his Lord and God must have been watching out for him then, too. Unfortunately, God was too busy ogling Ray's jewelry to watch out for Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar, both of whom were stabbed to death that night.

They got in a fight outside a nightclub where Lewis and his posse, and probably his Lord and God, were partying. The white suit Lewis had on disappeared. Baker's blood was found in Lewis's limo.

Lewis and two of his posse, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were indicted for murder. Lewis turned against his friends, copped a plea to a lesser charge, and testified against Oakley and Sweeting. But guess what? An Atlanta jury acquitted both men. The murders are still unsolved.

I grew up in Brooklyn. One thing we all learned early on was to never squeal. You can fake-cry, you can pray to the Lord, but keep your mouth shut when the coppers start asking questions.

If you didn't, you could wail and cry to your heart's content, but some guy named Vinnie the Hair Lip was going to see to it you went for a long swim in the Gowanus Canal, and by that I mean a permanent swim. And by the way, that hair lip on Vinnie was manmade -- by a punk with a razor. He don't come around here no more, as they say.

You always, we were taught on the streets of Brooklyn, "do the right thing," even if it meant taking a bath when you didn't want to.

On January 31, 2000 the Great Humanitarian Ray Lewis had a chance to do the right thing. Instead, he turned squealer. We had lots of other words for his kind in Flatbush: canary, fink, informer, pigeon, rat, snitch, stoolie, and traitor. Worse, he's a big crybaby.

He gave his loyal friends up rather than take the heat. The great wordsmith, so elegant in interviews, has never answered the question: where's that white suit, Ray? Maybe his Lord and God stashed it somewhere like the Gowanus Canal, with a big lead pipe attached to it. That's where they say Louie No Chin, the poor fool in our neighborhood that robbed the pizza joint owned by a connected guy, is taking his permanent bath nowadays.

On April 29, 2004, Lewis reached a settlement with four-year-old India Lollar, born months after the death of her father Richard, pre-empting a scheduled civic suit charging Lewis with the death of her father. Lewis also reached an undisclosed settlement with Baker's family.

Epilogue: Naturally, the cameras focused on the weeping, praying Lewis after his team won the Super Bowl Sunday night, even though he was a liability to his team. That same day the N.Y. Post reported Lewis hadn't given one cent of his $7 million salary to The Ray Lewis Family Foundation, and the one he started before that didn't file tax returns for three years and was decertified. There was also a story implicating Lewis in a doping scandal.

He might be an icon in this ESPN era of bosomy babes, smart aleck broadcasters, and men on steroids with big muscles and little brains, but he wouldn't have lasted very long in Flatbush.

He should remember "an eye for an eye." That was in the Bible, Ray.

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