Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Values Drilled Into Notre Dame WR Target Christian Lewis At Home

May 26, 2020
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After two kids, Camilla Lewis felt she the parenting thing down pretty good.

Christian Lewis as a baby

Working a high-demand job that at times required her attention even on nights and weekends, Mrs. Lewis often needed temporary distractions for her children, starting with her daughter Erica and her son DJ.

In a pinch, Erica could easily be entertained by Lamb Chop’s Play-A-Long on PBS.

“I could put the video on and do what I needed to do around the house,” Mrs. Lewis recalls. “I would  come back, check in with her and she’d still be sitting there watching Lamb Chop.”

For DJ, Barney & Friends did the trick.

“Again, I could kind of move around the house,” Mrs. Lewis says.

And then came her third child, nine years after Erica and six years after DJ.

Before Christian Lewis‍ became a top wide receiver prospect in the Class of 2021, the Alabama native was a rambunctious kid.

“Christian comes along and it was Power Rangers,” his mother laughs.

Christian Lewis as a child

The live-action superhero show may have grabbed Christian’s attention, but it certainly didn’t keep him calm.

“I don’t know if it was the Power Rangers or if it was Christian, but it didn’t work out the way it did with the first two,” Mrs. Lewis says. “I had to constantly keep my eyes on this guy.”

Christian’s energy was “non-stop,” according to his mother.

“The reason why Christian played sports is because I had to do something with all of that energy,” she says.

She started him with tee ball and to this day believes baseball is his best sport. When that season finished, she got him into football and basketball.

“It was literally non-stop, but I had to do it to keep up with his energy,” she says. “He has so much energy, even to this date.”

That first year of football wasn’t easy, according to Lewis’ father, Detrick Lewis.

“The coach used to tell me, ‘I need Christian to run the ball,’” Mr. Lewis says. “I said, ‘Chris, you wanna run the ball?’ He said, ‘No sir.’”

But between his first and second years playing the sport, a family with three kids older than Christian moved into the neighborhood.

“They played a lot of sports outside; football, basketball and all of that,” his father recalls. “He got used to getting hit.”

During his second year of little league football play, whenever Christian’s team needed a play, the coaches knew who they could count on.

“They always gave it to Chris and he always scored a touchdown,” Mr. Lewis says.

It didn’t take long before his coaches started calling Christian “Deuce” because of his #2 uniform and the fact that it made for the easy phrase, “The Deuce is loose.” The nickname has stuck with him to this day.

Back then, Mrs. Lewis wasn’t sure her son would have the kinds opportunities he has today with scholarship offers from some of the nation’s top programs.

“I really didn’t think about it when he was smaller, but I did hear it,” she says. “He was known in the city.

“I heard it from other parents, from other coaches. They were really mesmerized by Christian. I really didn’t focus on it. I just wanted him to be healthy, whole and a good solid kid.”

Lewis’ athleticism and speed helped him excel at everything he did, but his strong arm help him stand out in baseball and led to him playing quarterback during his youth days. Growing up, he had a pair of future college linemen protecting him in Mekel Dennis, who is now playing offensive line at South Alabama, and Tim Keenan III, who is now one of the top defensive linemen in the entire 2021 class.

Keenan and Dennis both attended Ramsay High School while Christian headed to Pleasant Grove High School, where he would transition to wide receiver.

The coach went to his father to see if he could convince Christian to stay under center.

“I said, ‘What did Christian tell you?’” Mr. Lewis recalls. “‘He said he didn’t want to play quarterback.’ I said, ‘You’ve got your answer. I can’t force him to play something he doesn’t want to play.’”

Mrs. Lewis wasn’t sure about the move either, but it ended up being a great decision.

“Once he started playing wide receiver, that was his knack there,” Mr. Lewis says.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder currently has scholarship offers from schools like Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina, Kentucky, Duke, Georgia Tech, Iowa and Nebraska among others.

While Christian continues to receive attention for his accomplishments on the field, his mother embraces her job in reinforcing what’s truly important.

“My goal as a parent is to keep him humble and keep him focused on academics,” she says. “If you keep your academics in check, you can do these things you love.”

Mrs. Lewis doesn’t have much trouble keeping him in line.

“Christian is a legend around this city, but I’m a legend,” she says with a laugh that suggests she’s not really joking. “Everybody will tell you, ‘It’s non-negotiable when it comes to her.’

“I’m absolute. You have to do what you have to do, in order to do what you want to do. If you don’t keep your commitment and you don’t meet the expectations, then all of this other stuff is off the table. That’s just how life is.

“If you do what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it, you can enjoy your best life. If you don’t do what you’re supposed to do and don’t pay attention to your academics and responsibilities, you don’t live a good life.”

While she demands respect with her words, she also uses the threat of consequences to her advantage like the ability to take away her son’s car.

“Put the keys down, let’s see how this walk looks,” she says.

Her own parents always said your name should mean something and she’s tried to pass that down to her children.

“I feel pretty good about what I’ve been trying to instill as far as values and morals and commitment and integrity,” she says. “Your name ought to meet something. It ought to stand for everything that’s good.”

Christian Lewis (top right), with his brother DJ and sister Erica.

Mrs. Lewis says she probably would have been a good military officer.

“Their dad is the life of the party, so we’re total opposites,” she says. “I’m more methodical.

“All of this rah-rah stuff that makes you feel good is great, but if you don’t do this, this and this, then all of that stuff goes away.”

If Mrs. Lewis isn’t the fun parent, that means Mr. Lewis is.

“No matter where I go, we’ll have a good time,” he says. “During his football games, me and a bunch of dads tailgate before the game and make sure everybody is having a good time. Then, after the game, we feed the kids. We always have a good time.

“My wife takes everything serious. Me, I don’t take nothing seriously.”

The balance of that approach has worked with Erica and DJ.

Erica has her Masters degree and is a licensed counselor at UAB. DJ is also a college graduate and has worked at Mercedes for six years.   DJ has risen to be a group leader for the luxury car company at the age of 23.

“Now as Christian starts his college journey I’m thinking ‘The other two are successful. It’s worked. It’s a tried and true process,’” Mrs. Lewis says. “‘We’re going to dial it in.’

Christian may have chosen a different type of childhood show, but he too is on the path to success.

And now, he faces a critical decision along that path as he sorts through his scholarship options.

His mother is adamant that Christian will be the one to make the decision, but he will need to justify it to his parents.

“I just asked him to come to us and we have a final conversation so we can assess his choice,” Mrs. Lewis explains. “I told him our role as his parents is to ensure that choice is going to help him achieve his long-term goals. His long-term goals are to get that degree and he wants to play at the next level. So what school is going to help him achieve those two long-term goals?

“What does this program do to help you become a better man? A better person? Community service, giving back, helping others. Physical fitness, training program. What does that look like? Just really making sure that it’s a well-thought-out process. Is the school competing at that level? Are they having postseason play so you can get eyes on you?”

Mr. Lewis agrees that the decision will be Christian’s in the end.

“He will attend whatever school that he choses,” says Mr. Lewis. “I don’t have to be there, he has to be there, so it has to be what he sees as the right fit for him.”

Christian Lewis enjoyed his visit to South Bend last fall.

Christian understands emotional pitches aren’t going impress his mother.

“A school can tell you all of these great things they can do for you and you can do for them,” she says. “We’re going to put all of that aside and we’re going to look at, how does it add up on paper and what is the black and white? What are the stats and what has been done that’s proven and what does the trajectory look like moving forward?”

She already gives Christian that advice when it comes to playing the game.

“Everybody is emotional,” she says. “If you go out there and be emotional, then you’re not going to get anything accomplished. Just think about the tactics to get it done, then what tools or resources do you need to execute, put them in play, everybody knows the role, everybody executes, come together as a team, play as a team and then you’re going to win.”

And that’s the same strategy she wants him to use to set himself up long after his playing days are finished.

“All of this is great, but you’re not going to do this for the rest of your life. It’s just physically impossible. What’s most important to me as his mother, what’s important to Camila P. Lewis is that he’s a good citizen and that he understands his role and his assignment and what God has given him in helping others.

“All of this great stuff and accolades and awards and call-outs, all of that is good, but at the end of the day, when it settles, what you do for others and being a good, solid person and a good model citizen is most important to me. And now more than ever, you’re feeling the impact of that.”

 
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