BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Family and friends of Ray Lewis are pushing back against calls for his statue to be taken down outside of M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens legend faced backlash Sunday for kneeling during the National Anthem.READ MORE: Maryland Natural Resources Police Seek Boat Operator Who Fled Magothy River Collision Site
Tens of thousands of people have called for the statue to be taken down, but family said it represents what Ray has already done for Baltimore and that can’t be changed.
Ray Lewis’ mother, friends and family knelt to pray under the iconic statue at M&T Bank Stadium Saturday.
“You can’t erase 17 years of history. You can’t erase two Super Bowls,” said Sunseria “Buffy” Smith, Ray Lewis’ mother. “You can’t erase Ray coming here, going to Johns Hopkins Hospital. He do stuff people don’t even know he do.”
The legendary Raven faced backlash after he locked arms with Ravens players and knelt during the National Anthem. Lewis said his stance was prayer, not protest.READ MORE: SLIDESHOW: AVAM's Fourth Of July Pet Parade
“I think Ray showed bravery and he showed the country really what we all should be focusing on, and that’s praying together,” said Jack Brewer a friend of Lewis.
Since Sunday’s game in London, more than 70,000 people have signed the petition to have Lewis’ statue removed from M&T Bank Stadium. and security has been on 24 hour watch for days.
Ray and his mother Buffy said text messages between them discuss Ray praying on two knees.
“I would not apologize for my son on two knees praying. I cannot apologize for that,” Smith said.
“He deserves to have that statue, and not to have it removed, because he earned it,” family member Judy Dixon said.MORE NEWS: Maryland Weather: Warm & Dry Fourth Of July Forecast