Friends, teammates and teachers remembered TyQuan Lewis Wednesday as a respectful student, loyal friend and excellent athlete who displayed an infectious smile to all he met.
“If you knew TyQuan, you know that he would want you to celebrate his life,” Thomas Whitley, principal, encouraged attendees at the memorial service. Students, friends, family and community members packed the auditorium at Lakeland High School, filling nearly every seat for the 7 p.m. memorial service.
Lewis was shot and killed on Walnut Street early Sunday morning after leaving a party on Manning Road.
“When I got that call in the morning, I couldn’t believe it,” said football coach Glenwood Ferebee. “I haven’t slept since. I sleep, but I’m always waking up at 3 in the morning.”
Hundreds of people filed through the school’s doors for the memorial service. Most wore somber expressions, and many sported home-printed buttons and T-shirts with Lewis’ photo, dates of birth and death and favorite quotes.
The school’s activities director, Terri Tucker, said her favorite memory of Lewis will be when her 6-year-old son was shooting hoops in the gym before a game. Without being asked, Lewis began retrieving the young boy’s rebounds and tossing the basketball back to him.
“He was charismatic, and people loved to be around him,” Tucker said, remembering how Lewis spent “countless hours” in the training room recovering from a football injury.
“I’m ready to play,” she recalled him saying.
Amy Jacobs, a biology teacher at the school, recalled that Lewis worked hard to catch up in his schoolwork after he missed school.
“He was one of the most respectful and polite students I have ever had in 15 years,” Jacobs said, remembering that Lewis always called her “ma’am.”
“You just don’t get that kind of response as much as you should,” Jacobs said.
Several people commented on Lewis’ dazzling smile.
“Ty had the type of … smile that would make you want to smile back, even if you didn’t feel like it,” Jacobs said. “He had a passion for what he was doing, where he was going and how he was getting there.”
Cavalier football teammates Walter Boykins and Rayquan Johnson both said they first met Lewis when playing Pop Warner football.
“My first touchdown I ever threw in my career was to TyQuan Lewis,” Johnson said. “We got closer and closer each year.”
Boykins said he couldn’t believe it when he heard the news.
“I’m going to miss him, though, for real,” he said.
At the end of his comments, Ferebee exhorted those in attendance to shun late-night parties.
“You’ve got to start making better choices,” he said. “Just because you’re not doing wrong, doesn’t mean you’re not at the wrong place at the wrong time. Next time, it could be you.”