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Remembering Coach Alonzo Lewis

February 27, 2012

A memorial service for Alonzo Lewis will be held Saturday, March 3 at Chester High School gymnasium at 1:00 p.m. Lewis coached at Cheyney for four seasons. Prior to gracing the Cheyney sidelines he spent 20 seasons as a high school coach, 10 at Chester, seven at Darby Township and three at Academy Park. He closed out his scholastic career with the fourth-most wins (433) in Delaware County history.

Lewis died Tuesday evening after being struck by a car on his way to the Catholic League girls basketball semifinals at Philadelphia University. He was 77.

Alonzo Lewis, 77, is being remembered as the basketball coach at Cheyney University and at Chester High School.


His family says he was on his way to watch a basketball game Tuesday night when he was struck and killed by an oncoming car.


"He loved kids. He loved sports. He loved basketball," said Lewis' wife, Cathy.


To talk about Alonzo Lewis is to talk basketball. He lived and breathed the sport and loved coaching as a way to help kids.


"When he could help kids, he did," said Cathy Lewis.


Lewis is perhaps best known as the former basketball coach at Chester High. He led the team to two state championships, winning in 1989. He left Chester to become coach at Cheyney University in 1995.
Lewis was a basketball standout himself, first at Darby High and then at LaSalle University. He was named to the LaSalle and Big Five Halls of Fame.


He was on his way to watch a basketball game at Philadelphia University. Around 6:30 p.m. he was struck and killed by an oncoming car at the intersection of Henry Avenue and School House Lane in East Falls.
Police called it a tragic accident.


"Just like that, just quickly," said Lewis' wife. "A car came and an accident occurred."


Coach Lewis was a mentor to many. He saw basketball as a way to a better life.


"It was an avenue to help children, students, get to college and then have a better future for themselves," said Cathy Lewis. "He always talked about the student athlete. That's what he stressed upon his kids."
Lewis' daughter, Alison, has a bright future. She's a basketball standout at Unionville High and hopes to follow in her dad's footsteps by playing in college. She says her dad taught her everything about the game.
She and her mother say they will always remember the words Alonzo Lewis lived by.


"Work hard, study, love what you do," said Cathy. "Do your absolute best and have a dream."


Retired Cheyney and Temple University coach John Chaney had fond memories of Lewis, who was a star player at what is now La Salle University.


"He was a great basketball player, one of our great players," said Chaney, who grew up with Lewis and played with him in the Eastern League for nearly a decade.


"He will be somebody that, every time I look over my right or left shoulder, I'll always think that he'll be there."


He also is survived by another daughter, Anastasia, and three grandchildren.