A letter from Donna Harris-Lewis honoring Reggie Lewis 25 years later

Go down

A letter from Donna Harris-Lewis honoring Reggie Lewis 25 years later

Post by gyso on Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:14 pm

https://sports.yahoo.com/letter-donna-harris-lewis-honoring-reggie-lewis-25-years-later-123734288.html



There was a time in Boston when Donna Harris-Lewis, the widow of Boston Celtics star Reggie Lewis, was derisively dubbed by local media a “professional widow” who “misses the limelight.” But in the decades since, as her profile turned private, she has proven above all else that what always mattered most to her was keeping her husband’s legacy alive and well, in the NBA community and beyond.

It has been 25 years to the day since Lewis collapsed while shooting baskets at Brandeis University and died from heart failure at a nearby hospital on July 27, 1993. The tragedy that befell the first Celtics captain after Larry Bird’s retirement was followed by years of controversy, including a malpractice lawsuit against the doctor who cleared Lewis to play, rejecting the findings of a medical “dream team” that diagnosed him with a heart arrhythmia that should have spelled the end of his basketball career.

Harris-Lewis filed suit three times against Gilbert Mudge, the doctor whose second opinion she and her husband sought in hopes he could continue playing for the Celtics. The first ended in a mistrial. The second cleared Mudge of malpractice. The third was denied in appeals court. Harris-Lewis reportedly spent millions defending her deceased husband against still-unproven allegations of cocaine abuse, allegations that also threatened an insurance payout to the Lewis family in excess of $15 million. For that, local newspaper columnists wondered, “Why is Donna Harris-Lewis doing this?”

A quarter-century later, the answer seems obvious: Reggie Lewis could no longer defend himself, and his wife was left to bear the torch for his name. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Lewis’ death, I reached out to the National Basketball Wives Association, of which Harris-Lewis is the director and treasurer, to see if she’d be interested in telling the story of how she and her children, Reggie Jr. and Reggiena, have honored his memory these past 25 years. After years out of the limelight, Harris-Lewis responded with the following letter:

An open letter from Donna Harris-Lewis

Thank you for your interest in honoring Dr. Reginald “Reggie” Lewis, Sr. (honorary doctorate humanities 1994.). He was an extraordinary young man, husband, father (11 months), son, brother, friend, professional athlete — NBA All-Star, Boston Celtics captain (sixth following Larry Bird), Northeastern University captain (No. 35 retired in Matthews Arena), infamous Dunbar High School graduate and humanitarian. He accomplished a lot during his short tenure with us.

Reggie’s interest to give back to underserved communities germinated from a sincere concern for young people to utilize academics and athletics (just as he did) to improve their quality of life and to inspire the next generation to do the same. During my 1994 Northeastern University commencement address (accepting posthumously Reggie’s Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and an honorary doctorate degree in humanities) to fellow alumnae, I encouraged them, “To invest their considerable knowledge, talent, time and resources to underserved communities or non-profit charitable organizations.” Reggie’s life inspired those sentiments. The Lewis family remains committed to supporting secular organizations that promote athletics, academics and the arts.

The Lewis family commitment to giving our time and resources to help others has been achieved in a variety of ways over the past 25 years. Whether it is via our volunteer time teaching Bible truths with our Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses or supporting the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College; the Roxbury Community College Foundation; Northeastern University men’s basketball; Northeastern’s Reggie Lewis Memorial Scholarship, Jack Grinold Media Center and Annual Leadership Circle; the Urban League; the National Basketball Wives Association Inc.; NBA Cares; the Boston Celtics; the Boston Arts Academy; WGBH; all of the Boston community centers (especially Shelburne); Roxbury Charter Preparatory School; the National Council of Negro Women; Boys and Girls Clubs of America; Rosie’s Place; The Dimock Center; the Boston Neighborhood Basketball League; Dunbar High School; and the Cecil Kirk Community Center, to name a few.

Reggie left an indelible footprint on our minds and hearts. He led by example. We are grateful to the Boston fans and world for the continued love and support shown to his family.

Thank you!
Respectfully,

Donna M. Harris-Lewis

Boston, you’re my home

Donna Harris-Lewis was pregnant with their second child when Reggie Lewis died on July 27, 1993. At the time, the couple also had a 1-year-old son, Reggie Jr. Their daughter, Reggiena, was born some six months later. The children are in their mid-20s now, and the family still calls the Boston area home.

“Reggie and I always wanted to do what is right, and, as many of you know, there can be obstacles,” Harris-Lewis, donning a Reggie Lewis Foundation T-shirt, told a crowd gathered for the unveiling of the Reggie Lewis Technology Center, thanks to a $30,000 gift from the Lewis family, according to a Boston Magazine profile at the turn of the century. “Even when we try to do good, there are obstacles.”

Those obstacles included fielding questions first about why they pursued a second opinion when 12 doctors determined Lewis should not play again after a frightening fall during a 1993 playoff game led to the discovery of his heart condition, and later about the aforementioned alleged cocaine abuse — allegations Harris-Lewis steadfastly denied while mourning her husband’s death as a single mother.

Those questions have faded in favor of what was mired in the controversy and has been uncovered by the Lewis family in the 25 years since: Reggie Lewis, the 27-year-old Northeastern legend who became the All-Star heir to Bird’s Celtics and was beloved in the Boston community, left us too soon.

In their place is a legacy preserved by Harris-Lewis that continues to leave his footprints all over the city — at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, on Northeastern’s annual Reggie Lewis Memorial Scholarship, through the Reggie Lewis Foundation and by the two children named for their father.

When I reached out to confirm that the family still made their home in the Boston area, Harris-Lewis answered in the affirmative and signed off with, “Go NU Huskies! Go Celtics!” before granting us permission to use this photo of her and her daughter at a Celtics-Lakers game early this past season:



Harris-Lewis added, “It was nice to see Reggiena wearing her dad’s No. 35 jersey.”


_________________
avatar
gyso

Posts : 12831
Join date : 2009-10-13

Back to top Go down

Re: A letter from Donna Harris-Lewis honoring Reggie Lewis 25 years later

Post by RosalieTCeltics on Sat Jul 28, 2018 1:47 pm

Will those questions ever really fade away? I can still see that press conference with Mudge saying that Reggie had a "normal athlete's heart"??? And days later he was gone, much, much too soon. Living here in Waltham, the news travelled so fast you can't imagine.

It is, to me, like it was yesterday. Sad, so very sad.

And, then there is Jackie Mac, on television during the filming a a tribute to Reggie, claiming that she knew he did drugs. I still find this so unreal, judging from how hard he worked to get his Mom off drugs and living a good life.

There will always be questions, but the fact remains, that he was a talented player on the rise, and it was all stolen from him.
His son wears a defibulator today. I saw that on a story a couple of years ago. Genetics?????who knows
avatar
RosalieTCeltics

Posts : 17715
Join date : 2009-10-17
Age : 71

Back to top Go down

Re: A letter from Donna Harris-Lewis honoring Reggie Lewis 25 years later

Post by gyso on Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:34 pm

Hey Rosalie,

Welcome back, we missed you.

gyso

_________________
avatar
gyso

Posts : 12831
Join date : 2009-10-13

Back to top Go down

Re: A letter from Donna Harris-Lewis honoring Reggie Lewis 25 years later

Post by RosalieTCeltics on Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:57 pm

I went to your part of the world, Maine! Stayed in a beautiful place right on the water in York for a week. No Wi Fi!!!

Unfortunately I came back to bury my Mom's last sister, she passed away yesterday. Tough getting old.

But, vacation was great!!!
avatar
RosalieTCeltics

Posts : 17715
Join date : 2009-10-17
Age : 71

Back to top Go down

Re: A letter from Donna Harris-Lewis honoring Reggie Lewis 25 years later

Post by gyso on Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:13 pm

Rosalie,

Sorry for your loss.  

I am glad that you had a fun time in Maine.  I plan to go up sometime late in August.  Meanwhile, it is very hot in Charlotte.

gyso

_________________
avatar
gyso

Posts : 12831
Join date : 2009-10-13

Back to top Go down

Re: A letter from Donna Harris-Lewis honoring Reggie Lewis 25 years later

Post by mrkleen09 on Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:20 pm

One of the most heated exchanges Sam and I had was around his friend Jackie Mac and her claim that Reggie was a cocaine user. Something that was never proven and something that she never showed real proof about.

Lots of people did and still do coke from time to time. I think it is completely possible that Reggie liked to party and go after it from time to time. But with no real evidence that Jackie was willing to share, she was just spouting off into the wind.

Sam was a personal friend of Jackie's - so he always took her side in any discussion. But my respect for her was lost when she spoke so flippantly about Reggie and drugs.
avatar
mrkleen09

Posts : 3163
Join date : 2009-10-16
Age : 49

Back to top Go down

Re: A letter from Donna Harris-Lewis honoring Reggie Lewis 25 years later

Post by RosalieTCeltics on Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:30 pm

I agree that she should have kept her mouth shut, she had no proof. It irritated me when she went on that special to celebrate Reggie's life 20 years after his death. Wrong place, wrong time. This is something she should have kept to herself. No proof of this came out.

I don't know if you remember the story of Reggie's life.
He worked tirelessly to get his mother clean and sober after doing drugs. It cost him alot of pain and alot of money. This is why I question this whole story.

It is better what he was, how talented and entertaining he was on the court. I will forever remember his smile.
Two days before all of this took place I was at Brandeis where the rookie camp used to be. They would sell tickets to watch games at Brandeis, night games. I saw Reggie there, walking with his young son on the court laughing and joking. This is the Reggie I remember forever
avatar
RosalieTCeltics

Posts : 17715
Join date : 2009-10-17
Age : 71

Back to top Go down

Re: A letter from Donna Harris-Lewis honoring Reggie Lewis 25 years later

Post by Ktronic1 on Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:22 pm

mrkleen09 wrote:One of the most heated exchanges Sam and I had was around his friend Jackie Mac and her claim that Reggie was a cocaine user.  Something that was never proven and something that she never showed real proof about.

Lots of people did and still do coke from time to time.  I think it is completely possible that Reggie liked to party and go after it from time to time.  But with no real evidence that Jackie was willing to share, she was just spouting off into the wind.

Sam was a personal friend of Jackie's - so he always took her side in any discussion.  But my respect for her was lost when she spoke so flippantly about Reggie and drugs.  

I must have been out of the loop or just completely forgot. Did Jackie Mac volunteer this info or was she asked about it? Not that it makes a huge difference, but the fact that she brought it up sans backing it up has me losing respect for her as well. Sometimes things are better left unsaid, especially when this sort of mouthing off could have a direct effect on a grieving family receiving their much needed insurance benefits. She's been a pain in the ass here lately anyway.
avatar
Ktronic1

Posts : 3692
Join date : 2015-02-03

Back to top Go down

Re: A letter from Donna Harris-Lewis honoring Reggie Lewis 25 years later

Post by RosalieTCeltics on Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:54 pm

Five years ago Comcast did a special "Remembering Reggie" You may be able to pull it up on You Tube???
Anyway, they went thru his whole story, being drafted, improving so much, and then, the fateful night he had his heart issue. They had the reports from the Doctors and from Mudge, the whole ugly, heartbreaking story.
Jackie was on that show and said that she knew that he had done drugs. No evidence was brought up, alot of innuendo.

MrKleen: I remember the argument you had with Sam over this. He was very protective of her, said that she even regretted talking about it. Fact remains, She did! I just had a hard time with that.

I do know that I heard that Reggie's son now wears a defibulator himself. This is what was indicated that would have been one of the issues with Reggie and would have ended his career.
avatar
RosalieTCeltics

Posts : 17715
Join date : 2009-10-17
Age : 71

Back to top Go down

Re: A letter from Donna Harris-Lewis honoring Reggie Lewis 25 years later

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum