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While Ray Lewis heads to the Super Bowl, a mother grieves

By Tim Graham

AKRON, Ohio -- Thirteen years ago next week, Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker were knifed to death outside an Atlanta nightclub.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and two associates were charged in the double murder. Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction, a misdemeanor, for his testimony. He was the only suspect convicted of anything in the case.

Lewis since has flourished on the football field. He was selected for 13 Pro Bowls. He's a spokesman for video games, shoes and sports drinks. He has been glorified as an NFL icon and will be celebrated as he concludes his decorated career in Super Bowl XLVII.

In the frozen ground at Glendale Cemetery -- 21 miles away from where Lewis' bronze bust will be on display five years from now at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio -- Lollar's body is buried beneath a modest placard. Baker is buried in nearby Greenlawn Memorial Park.

Priscilla Lollar didn't attend her oldest son's funeral and couldn't bear to visit his gravesite.

She went for the first time Wednesday. The Buffalo News was there.

Priscilla Lollar and Master Lollar, who was 8 years old when his 24-year-old brother was slain, crunched across a dusty carpet of snow and cast their eyes downward on Section 19A, Lot 1, Grave 3.

They stood close together and swayed. Master Lollar had been to Richard's resting place only once before.

"We come to tell you we love you," Priscilla Lollar said in a sing-song voice.

She soon broke down. Tears froze near the corners of her eyes. She fought the urge to paw under his headstone.

"I want to see if he's in there," Priscilla Lollar wailed. "I don't know. I don't know.

"I never seen him in no casket or anything. So I don't know. Now I want to see what's up under here. I want to see if he's in there or anything.

"I want him to come on back home! I just want him to come home!"

Lewis and two members of his entourage, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were charged with double-murder.

Baker's blood was found in Lewis' $3,000-a-day limousine. The suit Lewis was wearing that night never has been found. Witnesses reportedly said they saw Lewis at least throw a punch in the melee and then coached everyone in the limo to stay quiet. The witnesses later altered their testimonies.

As the trial unraveled on the prosecution's case, Lewis was offered a deal. He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor in exchange for testifying against Oakley and Sweeting. Lewis was unconvincing, and both suspects were acquitted.

Nobody was convicted of killing Richard Lollar or Jacinth Baker.

"Ray Lewis?" Priscilla Lollar said. "You never know what's going on in people's minds, you know? I don't know. I don't know what would go through his mind.

"I've quit trying to figure out what people think a long time ago because you'll be so far off. You think there's a common answer for everything, but it's not, you know? One question could have a thousand answers to it, and you would be wrong trying to think of it.

"I wouldn't know. Some people are evil, and I think he's an ..."

Her voice trailed off.

"I don't know," she continued. "He's an uncaring person."

There's more of this story to tell.

To read about Lewis' role in the murder case and how his actions since that tragic night still haunt two families while he prepares to ride off into the NFL sunset, see Sunday's Buffalo News.


Ray Lewis | Super Bowl XLVII
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |