Baltimore Ravens defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. took the hard way to the National Football League (NFL). Life wasn't easy for Levine before getting to the NFL either. Recently, he celebrated his long journey on two occasions.
Levine's organization, the 4Every1 Foundation hosted the 10th Annual Ravens Offense vs. Defense Celebrity Softball Game and Home Run Derby last Saturday at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, Maryland. Like many of the Ravens players, Levine is an active participant in community outreach to Baltimore.
The 4Every1 Foundation was created in 2017 with the purpose of helping 'at-risk youth and their families build better futures through mentorship, educational opportunities and life-changing experiences. The foundation helps students prepare for SATs and offers vouchers to cover exam fees for less fortunate students. There is a digital literacy collaborative as well and also hosts a football camp that includes a life skills component.
Times were tough for Levine as he grew up in a small Louisiana town called Abbeville. Levine lived with his mother, his two brothers and one of his three sisters. They didn't have much but his mother Christina Levine worked multiple jobs to make ends meet.
"I remember our own family didn't even want to help us out but mom, ‘you were a soldier. Even when times were looking hard, you made it do,’" Levine said in a recorded message to his mother via social media.
Learning to deal with adversity as a youngster prepared Levine for the professional adversity he encountered later in life. After staring at Tennessee State, Levine signed with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He spent two seasons on the practice squad before being released in 2012.
The Ravens signed Levine to the practice squad soon after. After being placed on injured reserve that season, Levine excelled as a special teams ace the next two seasons. In 2014, Levine also got a taste of playing defense, chipping in with 23 tackles and four pass breakups.
Levine signed a two-year contract extension worth $2.4 million in 2015. His role on the team continued to consist of special teams and defense leading to a three-year extension in 2017. Levine recorded his first career interception that year.
Last season was one of his most productive years. He posted 28 tackles, an interception and a career-high— eight pass breakups.
As a special teams co-captain and elder statesman with the Ravens, Levine has sacrificed his body by doing all of the grunt work. That has not stopped him from recognizing his mother who sacrificed plenty to raise their family alone. Her resilience and focus set the tone for Levine's ability to overcome obstacles and become an NFL veteran.
Levine bought his mother a house to show his appreciation for all she endured.
"You were a real soldier. You never wavered even when times were looking hard— looking rough. It's just a small token of my appreciation," Levine said. "Buying a house or buying a car, giving all the money I can give, it doesn't show all of the sacrifices that you made for us."