On Halloween, I received a text. At the time of receipt, I was fully engaged in trying to cheer my beloved North Carolina State Wolfpack onto victory against the number one team in the country. I quickly glanced at the text and said to myself, “I’ll check it later once I get stationary.”
November 1. I finally settled in to catch up on what I had missed that weekend. I soon found out there was a party going on and I was beyond fashionably late. The internet was all abuzz. My social media feeds were filled with people talking about it. The unexpected was happening.
Andre Boyd had gone viral.
“I really didn’t know what viral meant,” explains Boyd, the mastermind behind the newest internet sensation, #NotRayLewis. If you are current with the latest happenings in the sporting world then it is very hard to miss Boyd’s presence. Created in the comforts of his own home, #NotRayLewis was birthed as a result of Boyd’s natural resemblance to Lewis and his intensity that rivals the future NFL Hall of Famer. This year, when it was time for Boyd to select his character for Halloween, his character seemingly chose him.
“I had an idea I’d be Ray Lewis,” Boyd recalls. An idea that was solidified as he was repeatedly mistaken for Lewis while working out in his gym. Complete with facial hair, a skully, shoulder pads, a number 52 Baltimore Ravens jersey and black Duct Tape, Boyd set out to embody the essence of Lewis. In an effort to do just that, he created a video that has sparked his month long rise in views, followers, friends and interviews.
The text I received on Halloween contained that video; of #NotRayLewis giving a passionate motivational speech to a “group of children” that were headed out to trick or treat. As a non-social media using Boyd took his family to their church for the trunk or treat celebration, family and friends were posting the video to their social media accounts. Soon, the video that started out as a laugh for a few quickly escalated into ripple of laughter across the country.
Boyd remembers “it was happening(going viral) during the trunk or treat. It got to the point where there were hundreds of thousands of views. When we got home, people were all over my wife’s (Facebook) page talking about, what is Andre doing? He is all over the internet.”
His video landed on the screens of many smartphones including the one owned by Lewis. Lewis, who loved what he saw, immediately shared the video on his social media accounts. “James Walker(a friend of Boyd’s) called me that night and said Ray Lewis reposted your video,” Boyd says shockingly. This was the beginning of something special.
Feeding off the success of the first video, #NotRayLewis began to find other opportunities to express himself. He challenged high school football players to give it their all on the field. He encouraged Ronda Rousey to get up and fight after her surprising defeat. He issued demands to all grandmothers and mothers to not let anyone take credit for their hard work at preparing this years Thanksgiving dinner. He offered advice to the other 31 teams in the NFL on how to stop Cam Newton from dancing. And just last night, he served up notice to the NBA on what it will take to prevent “Chef” Stephen Curry from “cooking” his way to his second straight NBA Championship.
So who is this “budding superstar?” Hailing from Laurinburg, NC in the heart of Scotland County, Boyd is a husband, father, son, brother, cousin, friend, motivator, comedian, neighbor, helping hand and graduate of North Carolina State University. He is a former football player who feasts on weights and cardio to keep the stress level low and the energy high. He runs daily and uses motivation from within to propel him forward each day.
Recently, Boyd decided he would use his God given talents to assist those who lack motivation to tap into their inner strength. This is evident from the speeches. Interwoven with humor, Boyd has a knack for dropping gems of wisdom into each speech that will inspire you to reach for higher heights.
“I’m slowly and subtly hiding things in these features to show people yeah I’ve got the comedy of Ray Lewis. With it(the speeches) just being from my heart someone’s going to wonder, jokes aside, what does this man have to say?” proclaims Boyd. “To bottle up your thoughts for so long will make you go crazy and mine have been bottled up for so long. Now that I have an outlet, it’s just therapy for me. It’s keeping me at peace.”
Peace is needed as Boyd becomes increasingly popular. His sudden thrust into the spotlight has led him to become active again on social media. On any given day, he is inundated with numerous friend requests on Facebook and his Twitter and Instagram followers increase by the hundreds. A quick search of his followers reads like a who’s who of an NFL round table. You’ll see Hall of Famers Shannon Sharpe & Warren Sapp and former players Damien Woody, Marcus Spears, Travis Johnson, Adalius Thomas & Alge Cumpler. His work is consistently retweeted by current players Charles Woodson & Torrey Smith. He’s been featured on multiple ESPN shows & their website as well as USA Today, Fox Sports and the Baltimore Ravens website. Seemingly everywhere you turn, there’s #NotRayLewis issuing a challenge while quoting Ric Flair. Woo.
With every video, Boyd is perfecting his craft and just when you think you’ve seen his best effort, he proves us wrong. Without providing all the details, Boyd offers up a glimpse of how he prepares his unscripted speeches. He often has an idea regarding the gist of the speech which stems from a selected set of adjectives that will tell the “story.” From there, Boyd engulfs himself in the character. Important to Boyd is the fact that Lewis is a Christian. As he prepares himself for transformation Boyd keeps this fact at the forefront of his thoughts. While he is impersonating Lewis, it is of utmost importance to him to respect the beliefs and values of Lewis, the man, as he crafts his latest project.
With all this new found fame, I was curious as to what was the one moment where Boyd realized he is on the Anchorman route to being “kind of a big deal.” Perhaps it was when Sharpe became one of his biggest fans? Perhaps it was when his Halloween video generated over a million views? Perhaps it was when Thomas sent him a direct message on Twitter? Nope. For Boyd, that moment came when his ” fellow Wolfpacker and friend of 15 years asked him for an interview.” My response, pure shock followed by an aww.
So what’s next for Boyd? Expansion. He wants to dominate not only the sports world but other genres & industries as well. He also wants to get into some kind of acting as he has his eyes fixated on appearances on the ESPYs and Saturday Night Live. In the meantime, expect to see more videos from #NotRayLewis. A Christmas one is coming soon and you will not want to miss this one!
As I wrapped up my interview, I realized I hadn’t asked one of the most important questions that needed to be answered. Andre Boyd, what motivates you? His response? “The greatest compliment someone can ever give me is ‘when you said….’ When you say to me Dre, ‘when you said’, that is it. I thrive off of that. Somebody was talking to me about the high school one when I said ‘saying you got knocked out is one hundred times more respectable than saying I didn’t fight.’ I need more when you saids. I’m addicted to having millions of when you saids. You can say I’m selfish but I am addicted to when you said. I found a platform and I’m going to motivate the world.”
Selfish, no? Able to change to world? Yes. And I know without a doubt that you will do just that, my friend
Andre Boyd’s Social Media Accounts:
Twitter & Instagram: @andreboyd1981
Facebook & YouTube: Andre Boyd