ST. LOUIS — With the football season finally here, it tends to take a few people down memory lane.
“Pretty awesome, we won a state championship in 2016, so that was pretty cool,” former Kirkwood Pioneer, Tyriek Lewis said.
Lewis, a former running back and linebacker for the Pioneers was just starting to write his football story.
“He was a beast, he’s a big boy, he’s a big boy that could move,” said Lewis' best friend, Ryan Kraichely.
He earned a scholarship to Truman State University and was poised to do big things.
“I think they went to the gym, maybe two to three times a week,” Tyriek's mother Tawana Johnson said.
But just weeks before his second season was about to kick off, things took a turn for the worse.
"It was July 6th, I was hanging out with my friends in the basement,” Lewis said.
Not long after, his friends saw his facial expressions change. Lewis all of a sudden fell to the ground.
"We just figured the best thing to do was call Tyriek’s mom," Kraichely said.
Once Tawana arrived, Lewis’ friends loaded him in the back of her car and sped to the emergency room.
“It was very scary, it was kind of a made for TV movie when I got to the emergency room," Johnson said, "because I stopped, jumped out, ran in screaming, like, 'someone needs to come get him.'”
It was there they found out the news, Tyriek had suffered a stroke.
“I was just like, 'that’s crazy, no way I had a stroke,'” Lewis said.
“I just broke down,” Johnson said.
His football career, over. The vision in his right eye, gone.
“So my whole left side went flaccid," Lewis said. "I couldn’t move my leg or my arm at all."
Doctors said it would take four to six months for him to regain function in those body parts.
“A couple of parents and us just all laughed and said yeah, alright, not this kid,” Johnson said with a smile.
One month removed from his stroke, Lewis was proving the doctors wrong.
“He’s very motivated, he’s a hard worker,” physical therapist Vanessa Kamp said.
Whether it’s on the gridiron, in a kitchen or helping others as a nurse in the future, Lewis is determined to live a great life.
“Just his determination to keep going, and having an impact on everyone around him, always positive,” Kraichely said.
“I’m still going to be my same old self," said Lewis. "Can’t change because of something like this."
The only thing he wants to change is helping bring awareness to others. He said that if you feel slightly off, go get help.
Lewis' mother said he had been having headaches for weeks before his stroke and never said anything. "So you have to say something," Johnson said.