May is Military Appreciation Month and the Cavs started things off in Cleveland by honoring a local veteran during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Toronto Raptors. Officer Darron Lewis was treated to a VIP experience on Monday night, one which included watching the team’s pre-game shootaround from the bench, receiving a signed jersey, meeting former Cleveland Star, Campy Russell, and enjoying specialty cocktails as a part of Crown Royal’s “Heroes Night.”
Officer Lewis lost part of his leg and shattered every bone in the other after he was struck with an IED while serving in Afghanistan in 2012. Lewis underwent extensive rehab, now resides in Cleveland, and periodically practices with the Cleveland Wheelchair Cavaliers.
Darron Lewis: 1st team & MVP ✔
Will Waller: 1st team ✔
Wheelchair Cavs: 2nd in Mid-American Wheelchair Bball Conf. ✔ pic.twitter.com/rrv4d1CbSe
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) March 8, 2016
In a 2015 story for Cleveland.com, a then-30-year-old Lewis paints a picture of a man who grew up in a military family hearing stories of combat, feeling bullets sail past his head in a foreign land. A man who lost his leg and is caring for a family, who is now motivated by his young daughters, then 2 and 7 months old.
Just before the amputation, Lewis used his cell phone to take one last photo of his left foot.
There would be other surgeries. Too many to remember. Lewis said every bone in his right leg, from hip to ankle, had to be put back together with rods and screws. Then there were months of therapy, re-learning how to walk, regaining his balance. The process came with bouts of anger and depression. Wondering if he could’ve done something different to avoid what he came to call his “accident.” Knowing it couldn’t have been avoided.
His baby daughter pulled him through the ordeal. “That was my motivation,” he said. “When I was in the hospital they said if you want to be strong enough to see your daughter, you gotta work hard. So that was my goal.”
His guest for the night was his brother who also serves in the United States military and recently returned from Japan.