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Ray Lewis' statement to media on his NFL retirement

Ray Lewis is retiring after 17 tremendous seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

The 12-time Pro Bowl and seven-time All-Pro linebacker delivered an emotional speech to teammates Wednesday before sharing his thoughts with the media in the following statement, courtesy of The Baltimore Sun:

"I talked to my team today and I talked to them about life in general. Everything that starts has an end. It's just life," Lewis said.

"For me, today, I told my team that this would be my last ride. I told them I just felt so much peace in where I am with my decision because of everything I've done in this league. I've done it, man. There's no accolade that I don't have individually but I've never played the game for individual stats. I've only played the game to make my team be a better team.

"Now, God is calling. God is calling in so many other areas of life and my children have made the ultimate sacrifice for their father, the ultimate for 17 years. Whether it's jump on the plane, jump right back, go to school, and I don't want to see them do no more. I've done what I wanted to do in this business and now, it's my turn to give them back something. It's either hold onto the game or keep playing or let my kids miss out on times we could be sharing together. I promised my son if he got a full-ride scholarship, Daddy was going to be there. I can't miss that. I don't know if I could sit in a meeting room and fight with that war.

"One of the hardest things in the world is to walk away from my teammates because that's my brotherhood, the only thing that I ever played for is to be right there and to raise Ed and to be with Sizzle for so long and to sit next to him. We're so much on the same path. Does that part hurt? Absolutely. You can never rebuild those bonds. Those bonds are forever. But the chapter is huge for me to now step into other areas of life.

"I may be gone now. But I ain't gone forever. I'm just going in another phase of life. I think my fans, I think my city, they deserve it. They deserve that whenever this road stops, for me not just to walk away and be like, 'I'm done.' I think we all get to enjoy what Sunday will feel like knowing that this will be the last time 52 plays in a uniform in Ravens' stadium."

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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