Born and raised in East St. Louis, IL, Rick Lewis was always very deeply enthusiastic about sports, playing football, basketball, baseball and track, and even attending Kentucky University on a baseball scholarship, where he majored in accounting. During his time at Kentucky University, Lewis became a decorated baseball player, being named Rookie of the Year, twice named the team MVP, and twice All-District and all Conference teams.
After college, Lewis played baseball professionally in Melbourne, Australia for eight seasons where he received three MVP awards, three hitting titles, six All-Star selections, four stolen base titles, and was a Player-Head Coach for two seasons. While in Australia, Lewis also started a Business Management &Consulting Firm and opened several successful sports and entertainment businesses, and had the privilege to work for two of the largest companies in Australia, the second largest computer software importer in Australia, was Assistant Financial Controller and the largest investment broker in Australia, and worked as the Commissions and Credit Controller.
In 1990, Lewis returned to East St. Louis where he started a human services agency that serviced over 20,000 people in one year. Formerly, the Senior Club Director for the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Indiana in Gary, Lewis is now the Program Director at the Duneland YMCA in Chesterton, where he has been working since 2009. There, he directs all of the programs that have to do with the youth and families, sports, and school activities. He also works with the schools and cultivates the relationships with the schools.
“I love working with the kids,” Lewis said. “In the sports programs, and some of the youth and teen programs, it’s really a fulfilling thing when I can work with a group of kids from the second grade all the way through high school.”
“When I attend sporting events at the high school, I still have kids who come up to me and just have to stop and say hi and tell me how much they enjoy their time in the programs at the YMCA. It’s all about building relationships with these kids that will last for years. That’s the most important part.”
Lewis is also the founder, President and CEO of Sports-Prep NBA, which he started back in 2006. After the Boys & Girls Club, Lewis’ goal was to be able to get back into the sports arena, more so for the youth (from the middle school and up), because he noticed that there was a significant development gap.
“It’s something that I had seen taking place with the athletes in the area,” Lewis said. “The focus had changed from developing an athlete’s abilities to simply making sure that the team wins from game to game. I wanted to fill that gap. There are so many talented athletes out there, they just lack certain skills, and that’s where I come in.”
Currently, Lewis has a player that is about to be the number one draft pick in the NBA.
Lewis also works closely with stroke victims, helping to restore their quality of life after suffering from a stroke. He considers this work to be some of his most rewarding and important work, and wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“Back when I started working with stroke victims, it soon became the most fulfilling thing that had happened to me,” Lewis said. “The excitement and the gratitude that you get from that person is more fulfilling than any other thing that I have experienced. It’s true, pure gratefulness.”
In what remains of his spare time, Lewis enjoys volunteering for the local Reality Store, a program for seventh and eighth graders where they learn the reality of living beyond high school. Going through each of the stages of life, how to properly manage money, how what job you pick will greatly influence your life. Every year, Lewis manages one of the stages of life that the students go through.