Entering retirement, Buckeyes legend Ron Lewis has Ohio State homecoming in TBT

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch

The time was finally right to call it a day, and Ron Lewis knew it.

After leaving Ohio State in 2007, the Brookhaven alumnus fashioned a successful professional career overseas. But after 14 years, the last six spent in France, Lewis opted to begin his post-basketball life following the 2020-21 season and is in the process of getting himself and his family settled.

Oral history:Buoyed by Lewis’ shot, Buckeyes advance through NCAA Tournament to Sweet 16

For one more night, though, Lewis was back on the court. Owing to his two seasons at Bowling Green under coach Dan Dakich, Lewis suited up for team Mid-American Unity as part of The Basketball Tournament on Friday night at Ohio State’s Covelli Center. It also meant going against Carmen’s Crew, the team primarily comprised of former Buckeyes.

So, yes, there were some boos directed at the player responsible for one of the most famous NCAA Tournament shots in Buckeyes history from the mostly pro-Ohio State crowd that wanted to see its team advance. But that was fine with Lewis, who told The Dispatch he was just happy to be back on campus.

“It felt great,” he said. “I loved the crowd, even though they were against me today. It’s OK. I just love to be back in Columbus, where I played.”

More:Carmen's Crew notebook: David Lighty, former Buckeyes eventually shake off TBT hangover

After spending two seasons at Bowling Green, Lewis transferred to Ohio State and sat out the 2004-05 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules before blossoming into a key player on Ohio State teams that won consecutive Big Ten titles. As a senior, his game-tying three-pointer against Xavier in the closing seconds of regulation allowed No. 1 seed Ohio State to stave off a second-round upset, helping pave the way for a national championship appearance.

In 71 games at Ohio State, Lewis averaged 12.0 points while shooting 34.2% from three. Coach Thad Matta described him as the one player he was most surprised never got a real NBA look. Friday night, he finished with six points on 2-of-6 shooting while playing 18 minutes against a team that included David Lighty, who was a freshman at Ohio State when Lewis was a fifth-year senior.

Lighty, too, has spent significant time overseas and has faced Lewis as a professional.

“I’ve been going against him for a while, even in France,” he said. “He’s a guy you’ve got to watch out for. You know the type of player that he is, the shots he can make, the ability that he has. To be out there against one of our brothers is something we’re used to (in this tournament).”

It wasn’t until Wednesday that Lewis said he knew he would actually be playing. Since retiring in the spring, Lewis and his family have been back in the United States, trying to settle in and acclimate to the next stage of life. Lewis said he arrived at the Covelli Center on Friday excited to return to Ohio State but “running on fumes” due to the traveling he’s been doing.

He was able to retire on his own terms, Lewis said, because it was important for him that his oldest son have a traditional high school experience.

“My oldest son, he’s 16,” he said. “I want him to be in the States and enjoy his high school years and enjoy what I got to enjoy in high school. I want him to be comfortable in one situation and go forward from there.”

The end of his playing career hasn’t yet hit Lewis, he said, because he would typically be off this time of year anyway. Once the professional calendar starts up again this fall, it will likely be a different story.

For now, Lewis is working on his own clothing line, “ItsNthn Attitude”, while considering getting into coaching. The name of the brand comes from a personal motto Lewis said he’s believed in, one that took him from Bowling Green to the NCAA Tournament and across the world before bringing him back home.

Former Ohio State guard Ron Lewis shows off his personal clothing line after playing in The Basketball Tournament on July 23, 2021.

“The meaning behind it is like, don’t let your circumstances make you who you are,” Lewis said. “Whatever the circumstances, whatever the ups and downs, it’s nothing. Bounce back, find a way, make ‘em pay. That’s what it is. It’s nothing. Nothing will stop me. Whatever your goal, whatever you want to do in life, keep pursuing it at the best of your ability.”

It's worked for him so far.



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