A national letter of intent in his hand, Pembroke Hill senior Curtis Lewis II walked through Research Medical Center on Wednesday night in search of his grandfather’s room.
For years, they had talked about this moment— the day in which Lewis would realize his dream of earning a college basketball scholarship, unburdening his family from the financial weight of a post-secondary education.
So when his grandfather fell ill this week, preventing him from attending Lewis’ signing at the school, Lewis devised Plan B.
He relocated the ceremony.
On the fourth floor of the hospital Wednesday, Lewis borrowed his grandfather’s eating tray, tossed a blue Rockhurst University backdrop over it and inked his signature on the white pages.
“He’s had a really big influence on my life,” Lewis said. “I just wanted everybody who’s been there for me since Day One to be there for this, and that definitely included him. He’s always been a major part of my life.”
Curtis Jones was admitted to the hospital earlier this week while battling gout and the flu. His family is hopeful for a full recovery.
While in elementary school, Lewis spent every afternoon with his grandparents. Jones gave Lewis daily chores — collecting firewood, taking out the trash, painting and the like — which eventually turned into his first job at a construction company.
“He taught me responsibility and how to be a man,” Lewis said.
On Wednesday evening, as Lewis sat behind the tray ready to sign his national letter of intent to Rockhurst, Jones propped up the back half of his bed to obtain a better view. His eyes fixated on his grandson, a 6-foot point guard.
Lewis’ parents flanked him on both sides, along with other members of his family. A nurse captured it on video.
“It was really emotional, especially for my mom, with her son signing to play basketball in college and her dad not doing too well,” Lewis said. “There were tears here and there for everybody.”
Lewis averaged 25.4 points, 4.9 assists and 4.8 rebounds in his senior season with Pembroke Hill, all of which led the team. He scored 1,905 points over his four-year career.
He plans to pursue his Master of Business Administration at Rockhurst.
“On my first day of high school, I told my parents they’re not paying (for college),” Lewis said. “After all they’ve invested in me with going to Pembroke and playing basketball, this was something I wanted to do for them.”