This is in many ways a sad story. There’s no getting around that, of course. Former UCF football player Norman Lewis was killed in a traffic accident while searching for a suspect in a Florida police officer’s killing.
That’s according to the Orlando Sentinel, who have an entire breakdown here:
Lewis, a 35-year-old Orange County deputy first class, was killed in a traffic crash in Pine Hills while helping search for a man suspected of shooting to death Orlando police officer Debra Clayton on Monday.
Lewis, who had been with the Sheriff’s Office since March 2005, was a member of the motors/DUI unit.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from UCF in 2004 and was an offensive lineman for the Knights from 2000 to 2003. Clayton, 42, also graduated from UCF, the school said.
UCF confirmed it as well:
Gone way too soon while answering the call to protect and serve this great community for @OrangeCoSheriff .
Rest easy, Big Norm. pic.twitter.com/sCnHl4frgp
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) January 9, 2017
Obviously it’s tragic, there’s no other way to view it. But that doesn’t mean Lewis’s story isn’t also an inspiration. After overcoming what was expected to be a career-ending knee injury in college, Lewis returned to the field, and after his playing days were over he entered the world of criminal justice, which was reportedly a longtime dream for him.
And he’d helped others, as well:
Lewis was actively involved in serving Gabriel’s DG85 Foundation, a nonprofit started by (Doug) Gabriel, a retired NFL wide receiver. Lewis talked to inner-city youth about building bridges between law enforcement and the community.
“When you put on a uniform, you’re doing it because you love it and you love people,” Gabriel recalled Lewis telling kids.
And he’d found his biggest fan in Gabriel’s son, who was impressed by Lewis’ experience leading President Barack Obama’s motorcade during a visit to Orlando.
“My son said, ‘Dad, he did a lot of things just like you,'” Gabriel said, fighting back tears. “‘Even though you played in the NFL, he met the president. Did you?’ I said, ‘No.’
“His life was a little better than mine.”