He remembers what it was like a few years back, growing up in Sulphur Springs and needing an outlet for his energy.
That's why the 9-year veteran of the NFL is giving back to his hometown sponsoring the second annual Damione Lewis football camp in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hopkins County.
"I found out we had a Boys and Girls Club here, I was at point in my life where I wanted to give back to the community. There was a need to give the kids something better to strive for than what they had. The Boys and Girls Club is a good place for that, so that is why I am doing it with them. I wanted to do a camp, but doing one through them worked out better for me," Lewis said.
"We will do some foot drills with the kids. Let them hit the bags, this camp will also have something not many camps have–a professional kicker Rhys Lloyd. We can't do much without pads. We just work them until they are tired out, let them interact with professional football players."
Lewis said he certainly was not exposed to working directly with professional athletes when he was growing up in Sulphur Springs.
"I think this is great, I did not have the opportunity," Lewis said. "I want to show younger guys it's not hard to create that kind of bond. I had a tight bond here with the guys I played ball with, now with Greg (Owens) winning state and they can see what will happen if they stay together and work together."
Lewis continued, "If you play well together and get that tightness, anything can happen. Here I am 31-year-old and I remember playing for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats. How hard we worked and the dedication we had to our sports, our school and our town. During that run, when I was here we had good teams in all sports, we were doing great things in sports. It carried over to people and their everyday lives."
Lewis, a 1996 SSHS graduate said he remembers the influence of Coaches Chuck King, James Cameron and Lee Daniels, Dwayne McMeans.
He said he recalls a playoff game in Rockwall against Cedar Hill that he thinks turned the tide in Sulphur Springs sports and left a lasting impression on him.
"It was my sophomore year, we were nervous. We'd done well in district," Lewis said. "We did not know what to expect in the playoffs. We had a really close team. We jumped on Cedar Hill like there was no tomorrow, we were knocking guys out. It was unbelievable. That game turned the light on. We had a chance to win state and do something great. It turned a light on in my life and soon I was getting recruiting letters from Miami."
Lewis said that team eventually lost to Waxahachie in Texas Stadium later in the regional quarterfinals.
Lewis, a gentle giant of 300-pounds now plays defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers. He has played nine years in the NFL after a successful career at the University of Miami.
"That team is epitome of a college football program," Lewis said. "I don't know Warren Sapp as a friend, but we can sit down and talk football, just like Jesse Armstead. About their national championships and how we got robbed. All the the people who played there."
He sees a connection as well with Sulphur Springs.
"Like Greg Owens grew up here, he's coaching here and they won state," Lewis said. That's just how the closeness I got in football with my friends and the special feeling of guys working together all started here at Sulphur Springs."
Lewis admits openly that he's a talker, a motor mouth who won't let up the entire game. He's fueled even more if he gets a play on an offensive lineman.
"I was an arrogant kid at first when I was here," Lewis said with a big smile. "I can remember when the coaches were naming the players who made the varsity and then let me sweat it out and told me last. I guess I deserved it because I had been talking, like always."
Lewis said he keeps his youth enthusiasm in the game, which is now his job.
"I always kept the kid in football," Lewis said. "I want to help younger guys. I bring some light to work, it builds locker room special feeling of guys working together. I come to work with a good attitude every day, I learned that from here and in college."
Lewis said he saw Sulphur Springs beat Wichita Falls Rider in the ESPN2 game and was impressed.
"That young man at quarterback (Tyrik Rollison) lit it up the scoreboard like the Fourth of July. I have never seen a guy like before throw the ball around the field," Lewis said. "They pulled it out and overcame that adversity and won that game."
Lewis said he will probably retire to Charlotte, his present home, after his football playing days are over. He hopes to play four more years.
"I hope this camp continues. We all like doing it and giving back," Lewis added. "I want to keep putting on the camp because it's doing some good."
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