After getting torched for 10 sacks in their opening game of the 2014 season, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats signed offensive tackle Jeremy Lewis, gave him five days to prepare and threw him out there. For Lewis, however, learning on the fly is something he’s gotten used to. In the latest of series of conversations with beat reporter Drew Edwards, Lewis talks about making the switch to offence, his tough upbringing and his unwavering commitment to fatherhood.
Drew Edwards: You played at the University of Miami. What was that like?
Jeremy Lewis: The funny thing is, my first three years there I played defensive tackle and then they moved me to offensive line. It was a difficult transition and I’m still learning but I’ve doing OK.
DE: You started 10 games last year, started this season on the bench and are now a starter again. Has that been tough?
JL: It’s all a process. I always say ‘God’s time is the best time’ so I can’t complain. Last year was a great experience but I came to camp this season knowing that we had great players here and that I had to compete every day. I was more focussed knowing that I was going to have to work at it if this was a place I wanted to be.
DE: Tell me about your family.
JL: My mama had eight kids and two sets of twins – I have a twin sister. I grew up in a big household and my Dad wasn’t around – we developed a relationship when I got older – but my mama raised me. She did a great job and she’s a strong, strong woman. That’s my Queen.
DE: What was your childhood like?
JL: I was taught to be respectful – my mama raised me right – but I grew up in a tough neighbourhood. There was always temptations: you had to be smart and watch the crowd you hung around with. That helped a lot, actually, because I knew I didn’t want to go down that path. I knew that sports was the key for me to make it to college and get away from that neighbourhood and make my mom proud.
DE: Tell me about you daughter.
JL: I have a six-year-old and she’s my motivation, something to live for. Her name is Jaida Lewis. She’s going to school now and growing up fast – it just let’s me know I’m getting older. She’s my world, man. I thank God for her every day.
DE: You were a young father.
JL: I was 19 when she was born and that motivated me, too, knowing that my father wasn’t around. I had to grow fast and now every decision I make, I think about my daughter first.
DE: Has she been to Canada yet?
JL: She lives with her mom in Florida and I’m spending the bye week with her. One of the things we’re going to do is get her a passport so she can come visit me. The plan is for her to be here for the Grey Cup.
DE: How’s life in Hamilton been for you?
It’s been good. I live a studio apartment in an older house with an elderly couple. I like to cook and watch watch movies and just take it easy. Being away from my family, my teammates have become my family. It’s great being around guys who love you the way these guys do.
Notes: the Ticats have placed receiver Andy Fantuz and running back C.J. Gable back on the six-game injured list. Both players suffered dislocated elbows in the Aug. 3 win over Toronto and haven’t played since. They can be removed from the six-game at any time, however… Saskatchewan quarterback Kevin Glenn on whether he’d welcome a return to the Ticats after the team suffered an season-ending injury to starter Zach Collaros last Saturday. Glenn played in Hamilton from 2009 to 2012: “”Nah, I’m a Rider right now. If wanted to welcome a return to Hamilton, I probably would have gone there. I had an opportunity to sign other places than here when I was a free agent and I chose the Riders, so that’s where I’m at. I’m here.”… Ticat receiver Terrence Tolliver has been fined by the CFL for criticizing the officials after the loss to Edmonton.