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Football Long Beach Poly

Long Beach Proclaims “Marcedes Lewis Day,” Honors Long Beach Poly Legend

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly is sponsored by Bryson Financial.

Photo courtesy Rob Shock

The city of Long Beach hosted a ceremony honoring Long Beach Poly football alum and NFL legend Marcedes Lewis on Tuesday, proclaiming May 21 as Marcedes Lewis Day in the city. 

Lewis, who recently turned 40, was a star football and basketball player with the Jackrabbits, where he graduated high school 22 years ago. He’s since gone on to be the longest-tenured tight end in NFL history with 18 seasons in the league; his 268 games played is tied for 28th most in league history.

Lewis said he’s planning on continuing his historic career this year and is currently training while evaluating his options for 2024.

Lewis was honored with a reception at city hall that included speakers 8th district councilman Al Austin (whose office organized the ceremony), Poly athletic director Rob Shock, and former Poly football coach Raul Lara. After the reception, he was presented with a proclamation at the beginning of the Tuesday evening City Council meeting.

“The city of Long Beach proudly recognizes Marcedes Lewis for his extraordinary achievements and his unwavering support,” said Austin. “We honor his legacy and the impact he continues to have on so many lives in this community…we’re honoring him for his success, we’re honoring him for his tenacity. We’re honoring him for being a proud son of Long Beach who really exemplified excellence personified.”

Shock talked about Lewis off the field as a mentor to kids, and remembered him as an easy-going student at Poly.

“He was a leader on the field, in the classroom, around campus, you couldn’t miss him,” said Shock. “He was a dual sport star athlete, everybody around campus loved him. He associated with every group and he could make anyone feel comfortable. He crossed barriers–Poly is a diverse campus and that was him. He could walk around and everyone was proud to know him.”

Lara reminded the gathered crowd that Lewis’ work with the Marcedes Lewis Foundation is still making impacts today. The Foundation–run by Lewis’ mother, Yvonne Snow-Withers–put on free football camps in the city for a decade.

“I still had kids on my team at St. Anthony last year who said they went to that camp,” said Lara. “As coaches, we don’t value championships–we value players growing up to be great men and great citizens. All your coaches are very proud of you and I know I am.”

For Lewis’ part, he didn’t want to talk about his own accomplishments. He wanted to turn the spotlight back on his mother and show her appreciation for helping him rise from an inner-city upbringing to the top of the NFL world.

“Mom, I want to thank you,” he said. “For always pushing me. You sacrificed a lot that you didn’t have to. I understood that as a kid and I do now, too. You made me feel like I was special. You having me at 15 years old and watching everything you went through–when I have those dog days in practice where I feel like ‘why am I here?’ All I have to do is think about what you went through.”

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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.