By Patrice Nkrumah
Lewis Thorpe, who coached North Lawndale Charter School to a Class 2A boys basketball state title in 2008, passed away suddenly in his sleep last week in Chicago. Thorpe coached at NLC for 15 seasons, compiling a career record of 330-126.
Known for his flashy suits and strong demeanor on the sidelines, Thorpe, 56, was one of the most successful coaches in the public league. He sent countless young men to college on basketball scholarships and was well respected among his coaching colleagues.
“I’m still in shock about this,” said Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin, whose father had a great relationship with Thorpe. “Lewis helped me out a lot when I started coaching. He always had a great team and he knew how to get the most out of his players. But more importantly, he really did a great job of working with men who came from some challenging circumstances in their home and community. Too often we focus on just the wins and losses, but it is the little battles you win every day when you are helping a kid succeed in life that are the most special.
The news of Thorpe’s passing hit the NLC community hard. Many students said he was a father figure to them and they say he will never be replaced. The cause of death was still under investigation.
“We grieve this heavy loss of a dear friend, colleague and mentor. Prayers and thoughts are with Coach’s family and those he impacted,” read a statement from NLC’s Twitter account.
Thorpe is survived by his wife of 28 years Patricia and their five children, Keone, Stephen, Brandon, Jada and Jalen. His basketball team has already made the decision to dedicate their season to their fallen leader.
“It will not be the same when you play against them without Lou over there,” said Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter. “He made coaching against him fun because he was just as animated on the sidelines as I am.”
Viewed as an all-around great guy and friend to many, Thorpe’s influence was not just in the Chicago area. Coaches from around the region sent their condolences to his family and players.
“My sincere condolences and prayers for Coach Lewis Thorpe and his family, said University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee head coach Patrick Baldwin. “The Public League has lost a true servant leader and ambassador. He represented his school with dignity and trail-blazed for many of the young men who learned valuable lessons on life every day from him.
Coach Lewis Thorpe Arrangements:
VIEWING- Thursday, November 1, 2018 from 4-7:00 p.m. at Corbin Funeral Chapel,
5345 W. Madison Street, Chicago, IL
WAKE & FUNERAL – Friday, November 2, 2018 at United Baptist Church,
4242 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL
WAKE – 10:00 a.m.
FUNERAL – 11:00 AM
REPAST & MEMORIAL SERVICE – Friday, Nov 2nd at 3:00 p.m.
Collins Campus Gym,
1313 S. Sacramento Drive