ATLANTA (June 3, 2005) -- Looking fit, sounding humble and relishing a sense of freedom, Jamal Lewis said he's ready to resume his NFL career after serving four months in a federal prison camp.
The Baltimore Ravens running back said he was relieved to have the sentence behind him, though he still must serve two months in an Atlanta halfway house.
"It wasn't easy," said Lewis, who attended a news conference dressed in a white shirt, blue jeans and gleaming white sneakers. "People say four months isn't that long. But when you're serving it day by day, you have a chance to reflect on the things that are important in your life."
Lewis pleaded guilty in October to using a cell phone to try to set up a cocaine deal in 2000, not long after he was selected fifth overall in the NFL draft.
He hopes to use his own experience to teach youngsters a valuable lesson.
"Be careful who you hang around with," Lewis said. "It can come back to haunt you."
Lewis is eager to rejoin his teammates, but it will be up to federal officials to determine whether he can attend a mini-camp that begins June 13. At the halfway house, he will be assigned a job and a room of his own.
"We want to put this behind us," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He's paid his price."
While serving his time in Pensacola, Fla., Lewis worked in the prison tool shop, read books, lifted weights and exercised his tender right ankle, which forced him to miss two games last season and was surgically repaired in January.
Lewis said the ankle feels much better and he expects to be fully recovered - or close to it - when training camp begins. He showed no signs of the injury when entering the room for his news conference.
"The football season will seem like nothing now," Lewis said. "That's going to be a breeze after what I've been through."