In 2010, the University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball team suffered a tragedy when Jeron Lewis passed away. His death was a massive blow to college basketball, and it left a huge hole in Southern Indiana’s basketball team.
Lewis did not have a chance to finish his senior year, and after he passed, the basketball team made sure that they would never forget the impact that Lewis made.
Jeron Lewis was a standout in high school and went on to play in junior college
Lewis was a native of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and attended North Side High School. In high school, Lewis had a lot of success on the basketball court. During his senior year, he was named Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel Prep Sports 2006 Player of the Year after averaging 17.9 points and 13.4 rebounds. He also led the IHSAA in rebounding his senior year.
After his high school career, Lewis continued his basketball career at the junior college level as he attended Wabash Valley College in Illinois. As a freshman, he averaged 4.4 points and 2.9 rebounds. The next season he transferred to Northeastern Junior College in Colorado and put up impressive numbers. He averaged 9.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game and shot 60.4 percent from the field.
Lewis returned to Indiana after spending two years at two different junior colleges. He accepted a scholarship to Southern Indiana, a Division II school.
Jeron Lewis’ career at Southern Indiana
At 6-foot-8 260-pounds, Lewis was a big presence on the court. When he joined Southern Indiana’s basketball team, he immediately made an impact. During the 2008-09 season, he appeared in 34 games, making 19 starts and averaged 6.1 points and 3.7 rebounds. He recorded his first double-double in an NCAA Division II Tournament win over Rockhurst University as he finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Lewis returned to Southern Indiana for his senior season and continued to impact the team. He started in 14 games and averaged a career-high 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds. The center scored a career-high 23 points in the season opener versus Harris-Stowe State University and grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds in a win over Maryville University. Unfortunately, he was not able to finish his senior season.
Jeron Lewis’ death was a massive blow to Southern Indiana
During a game against Kentucky Wesleyan, Lewis was on the court with four minutes left to play, and while he was on the court his collapsed on the floor, hitting his head. While he was lying on the floor, he was not showing any signs of movements, and the whole gym was in silence, waiting to see what was going on with him. He was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The senior big man was 21 years old when he passed away.
After doing an autopsy, they found out that Lewis had an enlarged heart, and a heart condition may have caused his death, but the ruling was not 100 percent final. Lewis just became a father a month before he passed, and his son did not have an opportunity to grow up with his father. Lewis wore No. 40 during his time at Southern Indiana, and since he passed, no player has worn that number. Former head coach Rodney Watson had a photo of Lewis on his desk, and former assistant coach Brent Owen and current assistant coach Kevin Gant had another photo of Lewis in their office with the words “Bigger than basketball,” above it. It was a tragic blow for all of college basketball, and Southern Indiana took a big hit after his death.