By Alejandro de los Rios
This is Derrick Lewis, wide receiver for the VooDoo. Derrick hasn't practiced since the season started because he has a torn ACL. Lewis isn't the least bit concerned though.
"I've been blessed," he said. "I'm not at all worried if this injury is season or career ending."
Strange words coming from someone with such a serious injury. But it's all because Lewis has another talent to fall back on. Let's go to the tape:
In case you didn't know, that's the opening verse to the theme from "Good Times." And, as you can see, Lewis is quite adept at singing. So good, in fact, that the VooDoo tapped Lewis to sing the national anthem during the team's home opener.
Lewis was born and raised in New Orleans and has been singing since he was a boy. His mother, Dorris Fortuné, realized her son's gifts when he was in the sixth grade and encouraged him to sing in their church's gospel choir. Lewis also had the benefit of both his parents being musicians. Fortuné was a gospel singer herself and father Milton Lewis plays the saxophone. By the time he was 11, Derrick Lewis was performing at Jazz Fest with Willie Metcalf.
"Singing was just something I was always able to do," Lewis said. "Being around musicians all the time, I just picked up the terminology. I took no formal classes."
The musical talent goes beyond singing, though. Lewis is also a song writer. He says he can write anything under the sun R&B, hip hop, doo-wop, gospel, commercial jingles and even has his own band called Albert Brown and the Old School Production that plays every Sunday night at Stanley U's Lounge from 7-12. Lewis says the band is still pretty raw and experimenting with members and its sound, but said anybody who wants to check them out is more than welcome.
Lewis isn't the only football player to also have a talent in singing. Former Saints Donté Stallworth and Joe Horn could carry a tune (the latter, Lewis said, "could sing his ass off") as well as Omis Adams of the Cleveland Browns and Jameel Cook of the Houston Texans. So why haven't they let reporters record them singing and put the video on YouTube?
"Athletes don't want to pursue their musical talent because they don't think they'll be respected," Lewis said. "You get someone like [Allen Iverson] or [Shaquille O'Neil] who can put out records because they have a lot of money to back them, but don't have the talent."
Clearly, this is not the case with Lewis, who established himself as a musician long before he was being paid to catch footballs. In fact, Lewis didn't even think about playing football until his sophomore year in college. Up until then, he was a National champion long and triple jumper and an Olympic hopeful from 1996 to 1999.
Now limited to walking on crutches, all Lewis can do is coach teammates from the sidelines; he won't be running or jumping at all this season. But while he isn't worried if his injury could be career threatening, he's not about to throw in the towel.
"I'm not quite done playing yet," he said.
That goes for music as well.