COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - Darren Lewis of Independence, Ohio has found a new passion in life, that passion is wheelchair basketball. “I love to play wheelchair basketball it helps with the survivor’s guilt as well as the other conditions I have. It [wheelchair basketball] makes me feels alive again when I'm on the court,” said Lewis.
Lewis joined the United States Army on February 14, 2011. Lewis’s dad, who passed away at age 41 from a heart attack during his senior year of high school, was his inspiration for joining the armed services. Lewis’ Dad served in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S. Nemtiz.
Lewis was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia for United States Army Basic Training. After graduating “Basics”, Lewis attended Airborne School or Jump School for three weeks where he received his Airborne Wings Badge. He was then stationed in Fort Lewis, Washington and was a part of the Charlie Company 5/20 Infantry Division, 1st Platoon Misfits.
He was stationed at Fort Lewis when he received orders to go to Kandahar, Afghanistan. Lewis arrived in Afghanistan December 14, 2011. Lewis’s time in Afghanistan was abruptly shorted on the 11th of July, 2012 by a 90lb improvised explosive device (IED).
Several members of Lewis’ platoon were injured in this improvised explosive device (IED) attack. One of the platoon’s members, who was an arm length away from him when the IED went off, did not survive the attack. When the IED exploded it blew off Lewis’ left leg from below the shin and fractured all the bones on his right side, from his pelvic to his pinky toe. Lewis had over 15 surgeries to combat his injuries and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBC).
For his service, Lewis received: the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with the Campaign Star, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Marksmanship Badge, Two Army Commendation Medals, Airborne Wings Badge and the Purple Heart.
Due to his injuries, Lewis medically retired from the U.S. Army on December 27, 2013.
Lewis began playing wheelchair basketball a year later for the Cleveland Wheelchair Cavaliers of Brunswick, Ohio. Lewis is in his fourth year with the Cavs as they will compete in Adult Division I for the 2017-18 season
Lewis has enjoy being a dad to his two girls, Londyn age 5 and Logan age 2. “They are the reasons for everything I do,” said Lewis speaking about his daughters. The Lewis family will be celebrating Logan’s 3rd birthday and Darren’s service to his country this Saturday, November 12.
The National Wheelchair Basketball Association is excited to celebrate “Veteran’s Week”. Veteran’s Week highlights the United States Armed Forces within the NWBA. The United States Armed Forces consist of Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. The United States has recognized this observed holiday since 1918, though under the name Veteran’s Day since 1954. The NWBA’s Veteran’s Week will conclude on 99th university of Veteran’s Day on Saturday, November 11.