CRAWFORD | Louisville's Lewis, Lee steal the show at ACC Media D - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Louisville's Lewis, Lee steal the show at ACC Media Day

Posted: Updated:
Trey Lewis and Damion Lee do some entertaining at ACC Media Day. (WDRB photo) Trey Lewis and Damion Lee do some entertaining at ACC Media Day. (WDRB photo)
Damion Lee and Trey Lewis of Louisville wait for a radio interview at ACC Media Day. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) Damion Lee and Trey Lewis of Louisville wait for a radio interview at ACC Media Day. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WDRB) — You figured that the players from the University of Louisville basketball team would gather their share of attention at ACC Media Day on Wednesday at the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte.

But you might not have figured it would be like this — Trey Lewis on a baby grand piano in a side ballroom pounding out showtunes and Damion Lee joining him with players from N.C. State, Clemson and other schools for a freestyle rap.

That’s Media Day gold, as reporters from around the league attested with smart phones and cameras rolling.

The fact of the matter is, it was a difficult situation for Lewis and Lee, who made the trip to media day alone after coach Rick Pitino was sent to the sidelines by university attorneys.

But it was a situation these guys were ready for — and then some.

TRANSCRIPT | ACC commissioner John Swofford talks about Louisville allegations
CRAWFORD | Louisville picked to finish seventh in ACC

Lewis, who played his freshman season at Penn State, says he’s at Louisville in this moment for a purpose.

“I was there when all those allegations were going on, and Coach (Joe) Paterno actually died,” Lewis said. “I was there during all that time. I went to his funeral, and all those things, the memorial when we held up candlesticks. I saw, from a crazy perspective, I saw how many people these things can affect. In those teams, all you can do is stick together as a team and have true brotherhood, and that’s what I’ve tried to bring here. I’ve just told them I’m here for them. . . . I believe there’s a true lesson in that, and I’m happy that I went through what I went through to be able to bring that experience here.

“What we’re going through now is nothing compared to that. What people don’t understand, what the media has to understand, is that these are lives that are being affected, and people matter.”

If Louisville has ever sent a more articulate and outgoing pair to any media event, I can’t remember it. Lewis talked about some of his passions — reading and writing, music, even magic.

Lee talked about the player he has idolized his whole life — Allan Houston — about going to a St. John’s game with his mother in Madison Square Garden as a boy, and being excited to be in the home of the Knicks, how they walked down to the front row after the game and he watched custodians peel off the St. John’s logo from midcourt to reveal the Knicks logo, and upon seeing how excited he was, the workmen allowing him to walk out onto the court, and touch it.

This season will pose a challenging dichotomy at Louisville — a set of ugly allegations taking part off the court, but compelling stories on it that have nothing to do with any of that.

“We just have to embrace everything that’s going on,” Lee said.

He could’ve used a lot of words there, and I was intrigued that he used the word “embrace.” But Lee explained.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s positive or negative,” Lee said. “This experience at Louisville, every part of it, is a blessing and an opportunity. I have a tattoo on the inside of my arm that says my gift is my curse. Things you are blessed with, people may try to turn it and turn it into a negative. But we just need to embrace everything, live in the moment, and try to be successful, not only for our families but also for our brothers and the coaching staff. . . . Adversity is opportunity. We’re going to take this and make it positive for this team.”

The day the news hit, Lee said he immediately sent a text message to his teammates.

“I didn’t know anything about any of this until everyone else knew,” Lee said. “But I actually texted my teammates after it came  out and said, ‘I'm here for you guys. There’s no other group of guys that I’d rather be with and fight for, day in and day out, and no matter what happens just know that I’ll always be your brother.’”

Lee and Lewis are roommates. They are bound not just by their situations — fifth-year guys looking to make their first NCAA Tournaments -- but they’ve found that they have similar injury histories and other experiences. They both celebrated birthdays last month, as did fellow captain Mangok Mathiang, and the three players and their families actually celebrated with a dinner together.

“Trey was right there on my official visit, the first guy I saw,” Lee said. “And it was like a match made in heaven. . . . I think this is a great opportunity, having a brother and roommate like Trey, playing for the best coach in college basketball, I come in every day excited to learn. . . . Every day you step in the Yum! Center (practice facility), we try to bring a positive vibe. We will make something good happen this season.”

If media day is any indication, you get the feeling that these guys might do it.

As Lewis started to play the pano, cameras started to gather, phones came out, pretty soon a large crowd was gathered, players from other schools joined them, Lee started rapping, mentioning the schools of the other players around him, and by the time the players’ session was over, people were talking about the show in the ballroom, not the show that has been taking place in the national news the past couple of weeks.

They won’t entirely drown out the noise, but there is a counter-story going on at Louisville, even as reporting about its much-publicized scandal rolls on.

Clearly, the Cardinals’ players are determined not to let the allegations bring them down.

“As soon as practice is over, somebody will just put a song on and pretty soon the whole locker room is singing and having fun, “Lewis said. “And I’m like, man, it took me till my fifth year in college to experience a true brotherhood, where nobody’s judging anybody, you can sing, you can laugh, you can have fun, you can rap. Even if you can’t rap, there’s people in the locker room who don’t even do that and they’re trying to rap, and it’s hilarious. But that’s how you want a family to be.”

It won’t go on the season record, but Lewis and Lee notched U of L’s first victory of the season Wednesday, coach or no coach.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

  • Sign Up for the WDRB Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Sign Up for WDRB's Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.