Lewis: Recalls learning the game in Brewton
Brewton and East Brewton are filled with successful sports stories.
Perhaps one of the best known in the area is that of The University of Alabama great, Walter Lewis.
Walter Lewis was born in Brewton, Ala. on April 26,1962.
He grew up in a neighborhood on Underwood Street and was no stranger to the children around him.
“All of the other kids in the neighborhood would meet up at my house and we would play backyard football. It was fun. On any given day, you could find us out there,” Lewis said.
Lewis’s mother served as a nurse at the local hospital and had her hand in taking care of, perhaps thousands of children as they were born, including this reporter.
Lewis’s father was a bricklayer for Hines Realty and the two families became really good friends. His father later became a police officer and worked on the weekends as a bartender at the country club.
“The Hineses became like family to us. With the professions that my father and mother worked, it really opened up all kinds of opportunities to meet and spend time with a lot of different people as I was growing up. It played a major part of my life,” Lewis said.
Meeting new people on a constant basis and growing close to different families, played a huge role in the development of Lewis’s life.
Lewis’s road to football all began at an early age.
“I was an early Jim Brown fan growing up. I remembered watching him on T.V. with my father and I always wanted to be a running back like him. I starting playing football for Mr. Hamilton, who used to be a teacher at the school. They were our next-door neighbors and I became friends with his son. We would play in the yard every day,” Lewis said.
When Lewis reached the age of 8, he started playing little league with 9 and 10 year-olds with Paul Bess and George Harrison.
“Watching the game, I enjoyed it and my love grew. They put me at defensive end and I remember I could read the quarterback. I was moved to middle linebacker and during that year I won punt, pass, and kick. The next year I was moved to quarterback. That was my start. I was a quarterback from then on,” Lewis said.
Lewis went on to play high school football for the T.R. Miller Tigers.
“I would watch Richard Todd, who played for Alabama and try to perfect what I saw. I am a visual learner so that helped me develop my game. My coaches helped facilitate that. Many of the coaches I had there had an impact on me and appreciate everything that they did to appreciate me as a player,” Lewis said.
“I was a senior in 1980. The rivalry between TRM and WSN started when I was young and I remember watching those games. One year, WSN sent over a hearse with a mannequin of me and a No. 14 jersey. Those things help build the momentum of the game. We had a great team and great staff. The thing that stood us apart was that we played together and we came out on top because of that. It separated us from them,” Lewis said.
Lewis went on to play after high school for legend, Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama
“I remember stepping onto the field in a game against Tennessee and breaking the huddle. On the other side of the ball was Reggie White. I remember thinking about watching this game on T.V. as a kid and now I was here. I was playing in that game. You had to block the big stage of things out and just play. Bryant saw things in me and I just played my game,” Lewis said.
“Before playing for Alabama, I wasn’t really an Alabama fan. I didn’t realize until after I got there, just how big in magnitude the situation and playing for Bryant was. I tried to just focus on playing my game and doing what I needed to do,” Lewis said.
“I remember the 1983 Iron Bowl well. I knew Bo Jackson well and had played against him in high school. I just remember that I wish I could have been better prepared for that game,” Lewis said.
Lewis went on to play in the United States Football League (USFL) and in the Canadian Football League.
“Brewton means a lot to me because it gave me opportunity. The people and the city helped develop me. Brewton is filled with tons of people who impacted me and helped mold me into the person that I am now. It was a unique place to grow up and I am grateful for everything Brewton has offered me,” Lewis said.