Home » Unexpected: Ray Lewis at TEDxYouth@VHS (Transcript)

Unexpected: Ray Lewis at TEDxYouth@VHS (Transcript)

Full text of football player Ray Lewis’ talk: Unexpected at TEDxYouth@VHS conference. In this talk, Ray Lewis shares how the greatest glory in life comes from the greatest pain. He encourages us to keep on, never quitting and takes us inside the unexpected pain he experienced in his personal life as well as in the game of football. He shares how he took his greatest pain and turned them into his greatest victories.

Best quotes from this talk:

“Man believes in the possible, God believes in the impossible.”

“If you can find a way to push through pain, there’s something greater on the other side of it.”

“Because if you don’t control pain, it’ll control you.”

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


Ray Lewis – Football player

Show of hands, how many people has dealt with pain somewhere in your life, right?

Today, I wanted to just really hit on something, successfully dealing with pain. I think you hear many stories in and every story I just sat in the back room and listened to them, I’m watching these people triumphing and figure out ways to keep going.

But how do you keep going? Why do you keep going, when the world says everything else is supposed to be opposite?

October 7th, we’re playing the Dallas Cowboys in Baltimore. And I’m studying all week, I’ve studied all week for this one moment, and I know it’s going to happen, I know, I know it’s going to happen. And I’m looking at Tony Romo and I’m watching him drop back and I’m saying to myself, I’m saying, drop and just pick up your hands and just pick it, pick means intercepts, right?

I’m saying just catch it, just pick your hands up and catch it Lou, you don’t start it’s played all week, fourth quarter big drive Baltimore going crazy.

And in the midst of it, the play happens, one run more drop, and I’m sitting there. And in my head I promise you I went through every thought, catch it, knock it down, don’t put hands up and the moment, I hesitated for a moment and by the time I put my hand up, my hand started to come down and I felt a sound, I heard a sound that I have never heard in my entire life, and my trusty apart from the bone.

And as soon as I hit it, I knew something was wrong and I said I cannot believe this, I said I cannot believe this because I know now, the 17 years of me playing. So, I know that this is my last, right, this is my last one. My triceps made nine surgeries, I had nine surgeries throughout my 17-year career, put them sit there and when I pop it, the moment I popped it, I said now you got a choice.

And I’m sitting out there with it pop and all of my players looking at me and they like alright Lou and I’m like I’m good let’s go. But, I know I am not good and I know something is functionally not right, something’s wrong, because I can feel a burn.

And three more plays after, five more plays after, seven more plays after, eight more plays after, I’m still out there fighting with my team, because it’s the fourth quarter and you can’t leave the battlefield, you’re going to leave the battlefield for injury, not pain.

Fifteenth play come up, young running back coming through the hole, I’m realizing that if I don’t sacrifice my body and throw it in the middle of him, he probably scores, we lose but I got one arm. So, I just do my body and just roll with him and he got the talking, you got to come on, you got to come home and I’m like, I’m going out.

And I went to the sideline and my doctor walked up, Dr. Corl walked up and she said what’s wrong? I said doc, it’s my arm. She grabbed the back of my arm and she touched right at the bottom of my triceps and she could actually push through, so where you can see her hand coming through another side, because it has snapped from the bone and I’m sitting there and she’s like why you smiling?

I say doc, it’s just an arm, she was like yeah but I got some bad news, I say doc what’s that? She said you just pop your triceps from the bone, I said its pop it from the bone, she said it’s gone, she’s crying, oh my god! Why are you crying?

She’s like I never want to see your career in like this. I’m saying career in like this; she said because nobody has ever come back from this, nobody has ever come back from a triceps injury, right? We was 4-1 at the time, so he was a quarter way through the season, and I’m sitting there and she keeps moving and she keeps moving it, I said and I saw the smiling again, she said what’s your smile for because I said “Man believes in the possible, God believes in the impossible”, I said all I need you to do, it’s meet me in the office in the morning and giving my papers, papers means MRI, after winning got it, right, valid to say yeah your triceps is torn.

So, she hands me the papers, I called a friend of mine, I said man I need your plane man, got to go right now, I flew down to my college doctor, Dr. Uribe and I got there, now I never forget soon as I walked in the door, he said Ray, don’t do what I think you’re about to do, you say don’t do it, because it’s the greatest risk you ever take in your life. I said doc I am not got no other choice, at this point of my career I promised myself, why I came into this game, if I was going to leave it, I would rather die on the field.

But it’s something that tear my triceps taught me about there’s two sides of pain that I don’t think a lot of people really understand, right? There’s one side of pain that’s the suffering and the discomforts side of pain, that’s why everybody raised their hands when I first acts, do you have everything I’ve ever been through pain because that hurts, you remember what that felt like.

But, then there’s another side of pain, that’s called effort, it’s called glory, it’s called if you can find a way to push through pain there’s something greater on the other side of it. And if you never tap into it, it’s because the first time you felt that you backed off, the first time you feel ah that burned, the first time you feel that it’s too much, and we rationalize with ourselves to where we automatically stop. That’s why a bunch of us give up so much in life so quickly. That’s why kids have a problem finishing things in today’s dive, because soon as they feel a small bit of discomfort, of things they write, how they’re gone, I can’t do it, no more.

But, suppose I told you, the greatest pain of my life is the reason I’m standing here today. Suppose I was able to share with you, my routine was so crazy man, I was seeing almost nine doctors for nine weeks 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. every morning, 10 days, 10 days from triceps repair surgery, had my bike flew out, I flew my bike out, I got on my bicycle, my cycle a lot, I got on my cycle, I got on my bike and I tried to grip the bar and I couldn’t grip it, didn’t have enough stress and I sat there for 30 minutes and so I made up in my mind, stop crying and grip the handlebars, just grab the bar.

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