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How baseball turned two strangers — a coach and a player — into family

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's Friday, which is when we hear from StoryCorps. Major League Baseball is underway this season, and today we hear how that game turned two strangers into family. Ed Holley first met Kanard Lewis in 2010. Holley was coaching youth baseball in New York City, and Lewis was one of his players.

ED HOLLEY: When I met you, I was like, this kid is humongous. You were probably, like, 5'10, and your feet were gigantic. That's the thing that always made me smile. I was like, dang, he can't run. He's got to pick up one of them feet.

KANARD LEWIS: Yeah, I wasn't fast.

HOLLEY: You were just growing into your body. And you used to stutter.

LEWIS: I did, but baseball allowed me to not get bullied as much 'cause I had some talent. And then you decided to share that you were also bullied. Now it didn't just become somebody talking at you, acting like they know. Now you knew.

HOLLEY: It was more than just hitting and catching and throwing. You know, I was teaching you about life. When do you think that I went from just being your baseball coach to being like family?

LEWIS: That day I got off the train. I was literally two blocks away from my school when my mom called and said, I'm in the hospital.

HOLLEY: I'd been in your life for a few years, and because she had the health scare, she wanted to make sure that somebody was going to be around to look out for her son. And I vaguely remember signing this paperwork.

LEWIS: She made it, like, legal.

HOLLEY: Yeah, like, suddenly I was legally responsible for you. I mean, just to be honest, it was something that I didn't think I was ready for. But you know what? It was you, and I felt protective of you. I just tried to help her because she did a great job of raising you. I think I also reminded you a lot of times when you're mad, hey, you only got one mom.

LEWIS: I think you continue to do a solid job. Like, you know, I think it just must have been crazy to see me at 14 and then now at 27.

HOLLEY: I see my boy going out there, reaching out to try to help humanity. I can say that not only did I make some young men's lives better, but they in turn have made other people's lives better. And I couldn't be prouder.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Ed Holley with his surrogate son, Kanard Lewis. Today, Lewis is a high school counselor, and his mom is doing well. Their StoryCorps conversation is archived at the Library of Congress. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Esther Honig
Jasmyn Morris