Jourdan Lewis has always planned to return to Detroit to share his love for football with local kids, and now, only a few years removed from his college career at Michigan, he has created that opportunity by launching a football skills camp for 200 middle and high school athletes.
Lewis, who played at Cass Tech and then Michigan and is now a defensive back with the Dallas Cowboys, will host invitation-only local players from sixth through 11th grade on May 27 at the new Detroit PAL headquarters. Delano Hill, his teammate at both schools and who now is with the Seahawks, is assisting with the Jourdan Lewis DB and WR camp.
The camp will focus on defensive back and wide receiver skills, and there also will be 20 quarterbacks participating.
“I feel really morally obligated to do something like this,” Lewis said in a phone interview. “I’ve always felt like this especially when I have the voice to do this, especially in college. I want to spark at least one of these kids. It doesn’t matter where I am, I want to impact kids. I’m genuine and I’m passionate to do so. And the kids feel it.”
He threw around some ideas in March and settled on this plan and with the help of the Sound Mind Sound Body Sports Academy and Westside Cubs, Lewis was able to make the camp a reality. It will be sponsored by Adidas, Top Cat Sales and the Police Athletic League.
“This is the start of it,” Lewis said. “It will not be a one-time deal. I want the kids to understand I’m going to be here. I’m going to be accessible to them. It’s not whenever I can give back — I want to give back to them, especially through Sound Mind Sound Body.
“I want to make sure I get this established. It doesn’t matter if I’m still in the league or not. A lot of people wait and they wait, and I have no idea why. I feel like it was time. I have the following to do this. I feel this was my calling.”
The Sound Mind Sound Body summer camp experience was an important one to Lewis, and borrowing from that concept, he will include life lessons as part of the teaching process.
He is funding the camp on his own, using money from his personal Adidas account through the Cowboys.
“It’s not like a regular camp,” he said. “We give them a T-shirt, cleats and gloves. A lot of these kids don’t have a lot of resources to have cleats and gloves.”
Lewis credits his former coaches, Curtis Blackwell and Thomas Wilcher, as well as John Wangler from Adidas and his mother, Linda, for helping create the camp.
Hill and his brother, Lavert, a current Michigan cornerback, will work the camp, along with Michigan running back Chris Evans and receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones. Lewis said he’s grateful he can host the camp in Detroit at the PAL headquarters on the site of old Tiger Stadium.
“It’s a big thing for the community,” Lewis said. “I want it to be like their home and that everybody is having fun and it’s a nice vibe. I’m doing this with my mother, my cousins and aunts, everybody is involved. That’s what I wanted. I don’t want anyone excluded. I didn’t want this to be about me. I want this to be about the community and everybody who has helped.”
It also will be about coaching football skills and reminding the players that they never arrive because there’s always more work to do.
“That’s what we want to put in front of everybody that as soon as they get success, give back,” Lewis said. “They have to understand there’s another level you have to work, and once kids see that, they heed to that. It breeds success when you’re around success.”