Alonzo Lewis was an inspiration to Fran Dunphy.
So much so that the Temple men’s basketball coach talked about the deceased Big Five Hall of the Famer following Wednesday’s 80-79 overtime victory over La Salle at Tom Gola Arena.
Lewis, a former standout player at La Salle and legendary coach at Chester High, died tragically on Tuesday night due to a car accident. Hours earlier, Dunphy sat with him at the Big Five Hall of Fame banquet.
Here’s what Dunphy said about Lewis:
“And I spent an hour with Alonzo Lewis [Tuesday] afternoon. And [Tuesday] night, the man lost his life in a tragic car accident. And I got a chance to be with that guy, a great La Salle player and a guy I admired so much as a human being.
“I think of how many kids he helped out along the way. When I got the phone call [Wednesday] morning, I got to tell you heart was broken for a lot of different reasons. If I hadn’t been with him for that period of time, my heart still would have been broken, but to sit next to him.
“There was a piece of chocolate cake. He said, ‘I can’t eat this. I would love to eat this. But I can’t and I’m going to bring it to my daughter and she’ll enjoy it.
“It blew my mind. And I need to tell that story because of what I feel about Alonzo Lewis and the quality and the character and the integrity that the man lived his life. I’m just proud to have known him.
“And to be honest, I was proud to sit there with him [Tuesday] afternoon. I’m sorry to go on. But I love the guy.”
The 77-year-old scored 1,137 points for the Explorers. He also played on the team that lost to Bill Russell’s San Francisco squad in the 1955 NCAA championship game.
Lewis won two PIAA state championships and compiled a 237-67 record during his 10 seasons at Chester’s coach.