Michael Phelps and Ray Lewis have forged an unlikely friendship over the years. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
It might seem like an unusual duo, but the most decorated Olympian of all time credits a guy who is currently in the midst of his own impressive run.
Michael Phelps, owner of a record 22 Olympic medals, said in a recent interview with Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post that Ray Lewis helped him get to where he is today. Phelps, 27, who grew up just north of Baltimore, said he wouldn't have had so much success had it not been for the Baltimore Ravens linebacker.
Their friendship goes back almost two decades. Even in 1996, when Phelps was just 11 years old, the "Baltimore Bullet" had been talking to Lewis while the football star began his first year in the NFL.
More recently, Phelps said he had been going through some "hard times" over the past few years and credits Lewis, 37, who will play in the Super Bowl in February before retiring from the NFL, for helping him win yet again at the London Olympics this past summer.
"We’ve talked about so much the last couple years of my career. He just helped me get through a lot of hard times, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. He’s been telling me, ‘One more shot. We’re gonna have one more shot.’ And he did it. He’s probably the only person who could really help me do that. He’s been through everything — the ups and downs — and he’s helped me literally overcome a lot of things that I’ve had in my life that have been tough, and he’s been there for me."