Tynesha Lewis grew up in North Carolina where she was one of the most sought after student basketball players coming out of high school. During her college career at North Carolina State University she starred as guard on the Wolfpack basketball team under legendary women’s coach Kay Yow.
Following her successful collegiate career, she was selected the 21st overall pick by the Houston Comets in the 2001 Women’s National Basketball Association draft. She also played for the Charlotte Sting and Minnesota Lynx before retiring in 2007.
In 2003, Lewis started a non-profit organization called ITSDOABLE, Inc., which features motivational speaking and youth programs. She has also been a successful schoolteacher in Robeson County.
I‘ve had the opportunity to minister to youth across North Carolina several times with Tynesha.
Tynesha Lewis talks to a group of students. The former North Carolina State University player went on to play professional basketball.
I consider her a good friend, and a great example of a young lady who uses her athletic and academic talent as a wonderful platform to influence young people to be their very best.
We spoke about her love for God, her great pleasure to be mentored under coach Kay Yow and her passion for inspiring this next generation of students.
Q: Tell us about your efforts to raise money and awareness for the Kay Yow Cancer Foundation through the upcoming Basketball Jamboree in Fayetteville, N.C.
A: As you know most of us have been touched in some way, shape or form by cancer. This is a great opportunity to rally around those who are fighting against cancer, and those who lost loved ones to cancer. We really want to celebrate them. I know it’s called a basketball jamboree event, but we really get to spend a week carrying the burden for those with cancer.
Q: Most people in North Carolina know about coach Kay Yow. You had the opportunity to play for one of the greatest college basketball coaches ever. What was special for you about your coach?
A: I grew up in North Carolina. Everybody else knew about University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, so if I was going to go to N.C. State there had to be something amazing about Coach Yow.
The thing that changed everything for me was the letter she sent me saying the only reason that she was here today was because of her faith [in God]. She wanted us to learn that life is not about me, and that it’s bigger than me. It’s is about playing for others with the platform that God’s given you. It’s all about giving back to somebody else who may not have the opportunities you had. I’m a product of what she poured into me. She was a remarkable person and an outstanding coach. What she did for me as a person, it just can’t be measured.
Q: You talk about the importance of spiritual and life guidance. It sounds like Coach Yow was and still is that mentor to you.
A: There’s no way you could come in contact with Coach Yow and not be changed. I live by the same mantra she did which is, “If you meet me, then hopefully something that I’m going to do will spark something in you.” She made you feel like you could do anything or be anything. I can remember calling her when she was struggling with her cancer fight to ask how she was doing. She said, “Well not doing too good today but everything is going to be alright.” By the end of the phone call she had encouraged you.
Q: Tell us about your foundation “ITSDOABLE,” and your great passion for this generation of young people.
A: I am completely indebted to young people. In the toughest time of my young life God sent young people to encourage me. I have to give back to them because they’re the reason I’m here. My brother and I started ITSDOABLE in 2003. In the summer we work in the low income Raleigh-Durham area where some kids might not be able to get a meal. Unfortunately, sometimes the only meal these kids get is when they go to school. In the summer we provided meals and gave about 2,500 book bags to kids who needed them. My parents told my brother and I that to those who much is given, much is required.
Q: You talk a lot about your order of priorities in life: Faith, family, and basketball. What’s that all about?
A: My mom and dad did a great job of raising my brother and I in church. So that was instilled in me from a very early age, and to have your own personal relationship with Christ changes how you look at the world. You’re not always trying to take something from the world, you’re trying to give something back to the world. Coach Yow instilled those things in me along the way. Faith and family are the most important things in my life. I want to make sure that any person or any kid knows that if you place God first He’ll direct your path, and things in your life will work out.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – The Nov. 15 Basketball Jamboree is open to the public, and will be held at the Freedom Court Sportsplex in Fayetteville. All proceeds will go to the Kay Yow Foundation. For more information about Tynesha and her foundation, visit www.itsdoable.org. Roman’s Sold Out Sports Talk Radio program on American Family Radio can be heard in 200 cities nationally or streaming live at afr.net. He is an evangelist and motivational speaker. Visit his website: soldouttv.com; Facebook: Roman Gabriel III; connect on Twitter: romangabriel3rd. Contact at (910) 431-6483 or email: [email protected].)