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Lewis remains a Baltimore legend after defeating murder charges

Over the last couple decades, few athletes have come to define the world of Baltimore sports like Ray Lewis. As the Baltimore Ravens have made a successful run at an NFL playoff bout this season, Lewis' star continues to shine despite the fact that he was staring down serious criminal charges only 13 years ago.

In 2000, Ray Lewis was connected with the death of two men who stabbed to death. Initially, violent crime charges were pinned on Lewis, but they didn't stick. Prosecutors let the murder charges go when the athlete agreed to testify against two men who were with him and admit to obstruction of justice.

Although there is still some chatter about the charges, one thing is clear: Lewis did not commit murder. In exchange for dropping the charges, he did admit to certain charges, but his legacy as a tremendous athlete and team leader is what will last.

In a profession where reputation is of the utmost importance, Lewis has maintained a very strong public image. To this day, Lewis is not only the face of Baltimore's football franchise, but he is adored by fans and is one of the game's most prominent figures. In cases where other professional athletes have been convicted of crimes -- or even acquitted -- stigmas have lingered.

Lewis' case shows how important it is to thoughtfully handle serious criminal charges. Of course, accepting a plea bargain isn't always in the best interests of the defendant, but it's likely that Lewis and his legal counsel determined it was his best option. Had the defense team taken a different route, the player's life might be much different today. By gaining an accurate assessment of the criminal charges and taking the right steps, it's possible for defendants to emerge from trial with a positive result.

Source: Article 3, "The Strange Redemption of Ray Lewis," Ryan Hallagan, Jan. 4, 2013

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