YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Lawalyn Lewis’ mom always wanted him to try new things.
“She really pushed me to socialize more, get out more, do stuff that I would never do and get out of my comfort zone,” Lewis said.
Lawalyn’s mom passed away unexpectedly his sophomore year. In honor of her, Lawalyn picked up a brand new sport: baseball.
“I sucked at baseball at first to be honest,” he said laughing. “As I kept doing it, as I kept sticking to it, I got better and I improved. I didn’t give up.”
Fast forward to his senior year at Youngstown East and Lawalyn is the team’s starting right fielder and batting nearly .400.
“It’s night and day from where everybody has come from,” said East Head Coach Jason Ray. “Really Lew, because just the way he’s had to not only learn the game of baseball and deal with what he’s dealt with with the passing of his mom and to just keep attacking and getting better is such a tremendous story in itself.”
Lawalyn isn’t just successful on the field. Later this month, he will be graduating as valedictorian of his class.
“I was one of the ones that got to break the news to him,” Ray said. “I was not surprised. He is a brilliant kid, a smart kid. He’s going to go far in his life, and I can’t wait to see where he goes.”
The last three years have been challenging, but Lawalyn has used his mom’s words to get through.
“Her motto was to strive for excellence, so that’s what I did,” Lawalyn said. “I just kept at it and kept moving on. I didn’t use the negative, I just used the positive. Or used the negative to motivate me to push me further instead of using the negative to put me done.”
Lawalyn leads the Golden Bears in a postgame prayer every game. After graduation, he plans on studying ministry and knows his mom will be with him every step of the way.
“I always keep her in my mind and keep her in my heart. I just keep remembering all the stuff she told me and all the stuff she taught me.”