BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Tough talk from former Raven Ray Lewis about last April’s unrest in Baltimore.

Jessica Kartalija with Ray Lewis’ powerful message for young people in our city.

April 27–Baltimore descends into chaos. Riots erupt across the city, just hours after Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody, is laid to rest.

Kartalija: “Where were you when you saw what was happening here in Baltimore?”

Lewis: “I was working out, actually. And I’ll never forget when I came back up, I’m like, ‘What? How do I got this many texts? What is going on? Come here. Come down here. You’ve got to come stand in the middle of the city!'”

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Social media posts trigger nearly 100 students to leave school early, filling the streets near Mondawmin Mall. Violent kids throw rocks and bricks at police in riot gear.

Kartalija: “What do you say to these kids? And what do you say to these teachers and these parents? What do you say to them?”

Lewis: “We have a real problem if we let kids dictate what’s going to go on in this world. If you’re a parent–go back to being a parent. If you’re a true teacher, and you really mean it–go back to teaching. I’m not talking about the X’s and O’s on the board. I’m talking about, ‘No, you will say yes ma’am and no ma’am. No, you will not speak. No, you will not wear your pants a certain way.’ It’s simple mathematics. ‘If you’re in the neighborhoods, no, you will not stand on the corner and do that.’ I will call the police myself right now.”

In a YouTube video, Ray sent a powerful message to rioters.

Then, with former coaches and teammates, he visits schools in the areas hit hardest.

Kartalija: “You are an icon in this city, and with that, comes incredible responsibility…”

Lewis: “It really grabbed my heart to say that it was up to me to do what people look for me for–and that’s hope. And that’s really a humbling thing because people really look for me to save their lives. Some people think football is stressful–trying to convince people not to kill each other–that’s a whole other mentality.”

Kartalija: “What about these kids that say there’s nowhere to go from here?”

Lewis: “I’ve said that a few times. I can relate. And I said, ‘I can give in to this, or I can make things better for my family.’ And I believe the real challenge is that kids don’t want to challenge themselves no more. That’s where the fight is left. If you really want to do something, check your own resume from the inside, and then ask yourself a real question–are you OK with the hand you were dealt? What makes you special enough to quit? Because the real story is found on the other side of pain. That’s where glory is.”

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