Ray Lewis, Carmelo Anthony speak out against Baltimore riots

Ray Lewis and Carmelo Anthony, two of Baltimore's most recognizable athletes, took to social media to share their thoughts on the violence in the city.

Lewis, formerly a star linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, implored those involved in rioting to "stop the violence."

"Baltimore get off the streets. Kids, go home. Stay home," Lewis said in an impassioned video posted on Facebook. "You don't have no right to do what you're doing to this city. Too many hard-working people built this city. We put this city together, we put this city on our back. We're with you. We know what's going on. We know the problems. We know there was wrong done. We know we're not getting the right justice. We know all these answers. But rioting in our streets is wrong -- it's dead wrong."

Violence erupted in Baltimore on Monday following the funeral of Freddie Gray, who died April 19 of spinal cord and other injuries suffered while in police custody.

Anthony, who was born in New York but spent much of his childhood in Baltimore, wrote a message on Instagram imploring citizens to "build our city up not tear it down."

"We all want Justice. And our city will get the answers we are looking for," Anthony wrote on Instagram. "My deepest sympathy goes out to the GRAY Family. To see my city in a State of Emergency is just shocking. We need to protect our city, not destroy it. What happens when we get the answers that we want, and the media attention is not there anymore? We go back to being the same ol Baltimore City again. If not yourself, then Think about the youth. How this will impact them. Let's build our city up not tear it down."

The rioting started in West Baltimore on Monday afternoon -- within a mile of where Gray was arrested -- and by midnight had spread to East Baltimore and neighborhoods close to downtown.

The rioters set police cars and buildings on fire, looted a mall and liquor stores and hurled rocks, bottles and cinder blocks at police in riot gear. Police responded occasionally with pepper spray or cleared the streets by moving in tight formation, shoulder to shoulder.

At least 15 officers were hurt, including six who were hospitalized, police said. There were 144 vehicle fires, 15 structure fires and nearly 200 arrests, the mayor's office said.

Lewis and Anthony acknowledged that the city has issues that need to be addressed. But both athletes believed there are more effective ways to spark change than rioting in the streets.

Lewis, an ESPN analyst, pleaded with rioters to return home and restore peace to the city where he spent 17 seasons as a member of the Ravens.

"No way, no way this can happen in our city. Young kids, you've got to understand something. Get off the streets. Violence is not the answer, violence has never been the answer," Lewis said. "... We don't do nothing for [Freddie Gray] doing this. We know there's a deeper issue. We know what the jungle looks like. But this isn't it."

Lewis added: "I can't come back home and this is it -- kids can't walk to the street. This is our future. Our future is in Baltimore -- what we're trying to build is in Baltimore. Too many babies paying attention to this craziness. And the sad part is, we've got young kids trying to tell us how they're going to dictate our city. That won't happen. We must change this right now. Stop the violence man. Go home. I'm telling you, go home. Whatever I gotta do, it will not happen on our clock. It will not happen on our clock."

Later on Tuesday, Lewis said he would remain at home in Maryland rather than work the draft Thursday in Chicago for ESPN in order to help stop the violence in his city.

"I felt that it was more important for me to stay in Baltimore and try to help the city I love. I greatly appreciate ESPN's understanding and flexibility at this late date," Lewis said in a statement. "I did not feel right leaving the city at this time."

Anthony said rioters should focus on "the real issues."

"Although, we want justice, let's look at the real issues at hand," the New York Knicks star wrote. "For example, When was the last school built in Baltimore? That's just one example. I know my community is fed up. I'm all about fighting for what we believe in. The anger, the resentment, the neglect that our community feels right now, will not change over night. Continue, fighting for what you believe in. But remember, it takes no time to destroy something. But, it can take forever to build it back up."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.