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Since bursting on the New York art scene in 2000, photorealist painter Adam Port has produced life-like masterworks for an elite clientele including fine-art collectors; influential entities like the NBA, Basketball Hall of Fame and Elvis Presley Enterprises; and celebrities like Michael Jordan, Carmelo Anthony and—above all—the one-and-only Ray Lewis.
In 2002, when Lewis founded the Ray Lewis 52 Foundation to benefit disadvantaged youth, Port was chosen as the featured artist at the foundation's first annual fundraising event. He created an inspiring portrait montage of the Ravens' inimitable franchise player, with the original painting and 4 limited-edition prints going to Lewis himself. The 5th and final print—autographed by both Ray and Adam—was the highlight of the event's charity auction, raking in more than $12,000 on its own for the RL 52 Foundation. (To view that first Lewis piece from 2002, see www.adamport.com/portfolio/ray-lewis.)
It was only the beginning. Not only has Adam returned to the gala every year since with a new painting or print, he has also attended Ray's private birthday parties. Early on, back in 2003, a starstruck young Port enjoyed the surreal experience of being in Ray's home with the likes of Deion Sanders and Spike Lee, only to walk into the living room and witness his two large Lewis paintings hanging prominently on opposite walls, dominating the space.
"Ray has always been extremely appreciative of my involvement with the foundation and the money I've been able to help raise," Adam says. "He's passionate about his charity and doing good work for young kids in his community. I look forward to seeing Ray each year. He's a great guy and has proven himself to be a terrific role model."
Port's deep respect for Ray Lewis is readily apparent in this huge, powerful homage. From the skull cap to the eye black, from the intense gaze to the pumped-up guns, from the purple pride to the iconic 52—all the key elements that define Ray Ray, that make him the unique force of nature that he is, are on full glorious display here. The breathtakingly realistic showpiece is the first of Port's Lewis portraits that has ever been auctioned publicly rather than at the RL 52 Foundation's annual private functions. It measures an imposing 2-1/2 feet x 4 feet and is elegantly framed to dramatic dimensions of 3 feet x 4-1/2 feet.
A 13-time Pro Bowler, 2-time Defensive Player of the Year, 2-time Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl MVP, Ray Lewis is retiring at the top of his game and on top of the world. Next stop: Canton. Five years from now, the Football Hall of Fame will welcome him with open arms. Ray's "last ride" was the swan song of an extraordinary gridiron career. Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." But Adam's art career, on the other hand, as seen by the rising investment value of his works to $20,000 and more, is still soaring, soaring, soaring to even greater heights.
Please Note: Adam Port will donate 5% of the proceeds from the sale of this painting to the Ray Lewis 52 Foundation.