A4I: Thad Lewis experiences tragedy and triumph

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Many believe that an athlete who reaches the professional ranks possesses an inherent athleticism that allows him/her to rise above the rest. While of course all professional athletes are born with a great amount of natural athletic ability, I have learned through interviews and observation that for the majority there is more to success than good genes. There is an “it” factor, whether it be character, resilience, mental toughness or an unparalleled work ethic. Bills backup quarterback Thad Lewis is one of the many athletes that I have encountered that possess that “it” quality.

Lewis grew up in a tough neighborhood in the Miami, Florida area. His father was shot and killed when Lewis was just two years old.  He watched his aunt die of cancer his junior year of high school. He earned a scholarship to Duke University and won the starting spot as a freshman. The team went 1-23 his first two seasons. By the end of his collegiate career, he set Duke’s record for passing yards and passing touchdowns, throwing for 10,065 yards and 67 touchdowns.  Surprisingly, he went undrafted. He’s floated around the NFL, playing for the Rams, Lions and Browns before landing on the Bills practice squad earlier this year. After an injury to the Bills starting quarterback, EJ Manuel, Lewis was promoted to the active roster and named the Bills interim starter. He started three games for the Bills and won his first game as a starter in his hometown against the Miami Dolphins.

Since Lewis’s childhood he has been handed challenges that would have led many to go down a negative path in life. Instead of allowing tragedy and disappointment to dictate the direction of his life, he uses it as fuel, driving him towards success.  People’s comments, a bad game, a hard hit, a losing record or the loss of loved ones could have all been grounds for quitting. When Lewis encounters obstacles, he has an ability to stay the course.  He possesses an “it’ factor that consists of a variety of qualities that can’t be scouted or quantified, they can only be understood through Lewis’s story, one which he is still currently writing by the way he continues to live his life.

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