An open letter from Donna Harris-Lewis

I reached out to Donna Harris-Lewis, the widow of Celtics star Reggie Lewis, to ask how the family has kept his memory alive since he died on July 27, 1993. That story can be read in full on Yahoo Sports NBA here. Below is a transcript of the letter she wrote in response.


Hello Mr. Rohrbach,

Thank you for your interest in honoring Dr. Reginald “Reggie” Lewis, Sr. (honorary doctorate humanities 1994.). He was an extraordinary young man, husband, father (11 months), son, brother, friend, professional athlete — NBA All-Star, Boston Celtics captain (sixth following Larry Bird), Northeastern University captain (No. 35 retired in Matthews Arena), infamous Dunbar High School graduate and humanitarian. He accomplished a lot during his short tenure with us.

Reggie’s interest to give back to underserved communities germinated from a sincere concern for young people to utilize academics and athletics (just as he did) to improve their quality of life and to inspire the next generation to do the same. During my 1994 Northeastern University commencement address (accepting posthumously Reggie’s Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and an honorary doctorate degree in humanities) to fellow alumnae, I encouraged them, “To invest their considerable knowledge, talent, time and resources to underserved communities or non-profit charitable organizations.” Reggie’s life inspired those sentiments. The Lewis family remains committed to supporting secular organizations that promote athletics, academics and the arts.

The Lewis family commitment to giving our time and resources to help others has been achieved in a variety of ways over the past 25 years. Whether it is via our volunteer time teaching Bible truths with our Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses or supporting the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College; the Roxbury Community College Foundation; Northeastern University men’s basketball; Northeastern’s Reggie Lewis Memorial Scholarship, Jack Grinold Media Center and Annual Leadership Circle; the Urban League; the National Basketball Wives Association Inc.; NBA Cares; the Boston Celtics; the Boston Arts Academy; WGBH; all of the Boston community centers (especially Shelburne); Roxbury Charter Preparatory School; the National Council of Negro Women; Boys and Girls Clubs of America; Rosie’s Place; The Dimock Center; the Boston Neighborhood Basketball League; Dunbar High School; and the Cecil Kirk Community Center, to name a few.

Reggie left an indelible footprint on our minds and hearts. He led by example. We are grateful to the Boston fans and world for the continued love and support shown to his family.

Thank you!

Donna M. Harris-Lewis

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