J. Lewis released from prison (Updated)

OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis was released early Thursday morning from a federal prison camp in Pensacola, Fla., after concluding a four-month sentence for using a cellular phone to try to arrange a cocaine deal.

Lewis was released from the minimum-security prison at 6:11 a.m., according to prison spokesman Dave Fagan. It was a quiet scene with no media present as Lewis was processed out of the Federal Prison Camp at Saufley Field, an outlying base of the Pensacola Naval Air Station.

Lewis will report today to an Atlanta halfway house for the next two months to complete his transition from wearing federal prison inmate number 55612-019 stitched on his prison khakis to the familiar No. 31 jersey he has worn for the Ravens for five years.

"I just spoke to Jamal, he was released early this morning," said Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' senior vice president of public relations. "He seemed to be in a very good mood."

For Lewis, 25, this brings some closure to his legal obligations stemming from an FBI investigation that began in the summer of 2000 prior to him signing a six-year, $35.3 million contract. Besides the two-month halfway house obligation, Lewis must also perform 500 hours of community service.

Lewis has submitted a request to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, asking that he be allowed to attend the Ravens' minicamp June 13 to June 16.

"We're aware that his attorney is trying to make that happen," Byrne said. "Medically, it would be good for him.

"This is where he makes his living, but I don't know the court system. His lawyer is handling that."

It's unclear when that request will be ruled upon, but it's unlikely any decision is imminent.

"We can't do anything until he gets into the halfway house," said Jerome Froelich, Lewis' attorney. "The minicamp is work-related, which is why we're asking for it and we'll see what happens."

The 2003 NFL Offensive Player of the Year will hold a press conference this morning at an Atlanta hotel that will be attended by team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, Ravens coach Brian Billick and Byrne.

Based on accounts from members of the Ravens organization who visited him, Lewis is in good spirits and in good health.

Lewis spent his four months working in the prison tool shop and checking out books from the prison library while rehabbing a surgically repaired right ankle that forced him to miss two games last season. His mother visited every weekend.

"I can't imagine what Jamal went through because it's unthinkable, but he's a tough guy and he's handling himself like a man," said linebacker Adalius Thomas, who visited Lewis in prison last month. "You just pray for him and show your support.

"In my opinion, the only reason he went to jail is because of who he is, because he's Jamal Lewis. The prosecutors would have never gone after him if he wasn't the offensive MVP of the league."

NOTE: There was no announcement regarding the likely impending return of nickel back Deion Sanders, whom Billick predicted would rejoin the team for its June minicamps. Eugene Parker, Sanders' agent, didn't return telephone calls.

Sanders, who turns 38 in August, was hampered by toe and hamstring injuries last season. The seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback still finished second on the team with three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills.

"We're waiting to see what happens with Deion," secondary coach Johnnie Lynn said. "If Prime is here, then come out in four-wide against us."


Aaron Wilson is the chief writer for RavensInsider.Com He is also the Ravens' reporter for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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