BALTIMORE -- Hundreds of fans lined the streets on Saturday to pay homage to former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis for his recent induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Lewis, who was enshrined on Aug. 4, was honored with a downtown parade and was given an engraved key to the city. Mayor Catherine Pugh proclaimed Sept. 22 as Ray Lewis Day.
In a nine-minute speech at City Hall, Lewis preached unity and even asked fans to hug one another at one point. He ended by performing his signature dance as the Ravens marching band played Nelly's "Hot in Herre."
"Today, I want to say this from my heart: Baltimore, you've given everything I could ever ask for in life. And I owe it to you to give you my life in return, to make this city a Baltimore place," said Lewis, whose Hall of Fame bust was only a few feet to his right.
The crowd along the 1.1-mile parade route was sparse at different points. Fans were never lined up more than two deep behind the barricades, and there were some areas with no fans at all.
Those who attended wore their purple No. 52 jerseys and approached Lewis, who was riding in a light blue Cadillac convertible. One woman kissed Lewis and others shook his hand.
At the City Hall celebration, a woman held a sign: "You made Baltimore proud."
"He's No. 52, but he's No. 1 in all our hearts," Mayor Pugh said.
Lewis pledged to be an advocate for the city and wants to play a leading role in bringing the community together.
"I believe I'm just getting started," Lewis said. "Football is one thing. But what I'm willing to do in this community ... we're going to change the scope of our city. Our city is about love. Our city is about hope. Our city is about faith. All things are possible."
Lewis had fans recite these words: "We are Baltimore. We love each other."
It is believed to be the third time in the past 25 years that Baltimore has honored a sports figure with a parade. In 1995, tens of thousands celebrated Cal Ripken Jr.'s record-setting 2,131st consecutive game played. In 2001, fans cheered Hasim Rahman after he became the heavyweight boxing champion.
Lewis said the idea for his parade came from Mayor Pugh. Preceding Lewis along the parade route were the Ravens marching band and cheerleaders, along with a float from a fan club and high school bands.
On Sunday, Lewis will be given his Hall of Fame ring during halftime of the Ravens-Broncos game.
This is the latest honor for Lewis in Baltimore City. In 2010, Lewis had a street named after him in East Baltimore. Four years later, the Ravens put up a statue of Lewis outside M&T Bank Stadium.
"I will not let you guys leave here without installing one thing in our hearts right now: We must walk in love and we must do everything together," Lewis said.