It is well-known that Michael Phelps is a Baltimore Ravens fan. So much so, in fact, that Phelps was granted access to the celebratory Ravens locker room following Baltimore’s win over New England in the AFC Championship Game as the team punched its ticket to Super Bowl XLVII.
But it isn’t simply that Phelps loves his hometown Ravens, either. Last summer during training camp, Phelps delivered a pep talk to Ravens players following an August practice. And now Phelps is crediting soon-to-be-retired Ray Lewis for being an inspiration after the 2008 Olympics, when Phelps says he was exhausted and burnt out and didn’t care much for the strict training regimen required to be the greatest swimmer in Olympic history. Phelps says Lewis was there for him and helped him maintain his focus and keep his career on the right path.
Said Phelps about the two athletes’ unique relationship while soaking in all the joy surrounding him in the victorious locker room on Sunday, via The Washington Post:
“We’ve talked about so much the last couple years of my career,” Phelps said. “He just helped me get through a lot of hard times, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. He’s been telling me, ‘One more shot. We’re gonna have one more shot.’ And he did it.”
With the Ravens celebrating around him, Phelps didn’t detail his struggles or outline his conversations with Lewis. But he did say Lewis, who is 10 years his senior, is one of the few people who could relate to what he went through.
“He’s probably the only person who could really help me do that,” Phelps said. “He’s been through everything — the ups and downs — and he’s helped me literally overcome a lot of things that I’ve had in my life that have been tough, and he’s been there for me.”
Ray Lewis, master motivator? Nah, man, I don’t see that. I don’t see that at all.