Local trainer and entrepreneur turns failed NFL dream into lessons for young athletes

Posted at 4:14 PM, Apr 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-30 19:14:25-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For years, Nick Lewis poured everything he had into his dream of playing in the NFL.

"From JuCo went to Nebraska, from Nebraska went to different combines and tried," said Lewis of his path to the pros. "From sleeping in cars to not eating, to try to go out there and really chase the dream."

Only to realize that dream wasn't meant for him.

"Honestly it was hard," he said. "I sat in my room and cried like a baby when everything happened but I had to just take a deep breath and understand that what was meant for me is going to be meant for me."

It turns out nothing Lewis had learned in chasing that first dream was wasted.

"I came home. They see me still training and everything. Everybody started, 'hey, can I train with you?' 'Come on!' From there, I just turned it into a profit."

Almost a decade later, Lewis said he's right where he's supposed to be - training young people at the gym he co-owns in the southwest Valley, A.C.E. Fitness.

Lewis' approach is holistic - tackling the physical with speed and agility drills, strength and conditioning. And the mental - Lewis leads the high schoolers in creating vision boards - laying out their dreams and how to reach them. He coaches them on life skills - hygiene and financial literacy - and chooses a book for them to read every month.

"It's easier to read a book here than it is in the classroom because it's more motivation," said Zamier Marshall, a senior at Liberty High School. "We actually are benefitting from the things that we're reading. We're going to use this stuff like today, tomorrow and so on and so forth."

Lewis helped Marshall navigate a canceled football season, while preparing to play at the next level. Marshall's dreams have stayed big, his priorities straight.

"Of course, my dream is to go pro but definitely right now, I'm just worried about getting my degree at the next level and then starting my career, becoming a multimillionaire," Marshall said.

Valley High School freshman Lizzy Mahavong said Lewis has helped her grow.

"He makes us see stuff that we need to learn for later," she said. "So it's not just him teaching us how to workout but how to face life."

In facing his own life, finding his own path forward, Lewis has found a sweet reward - building the community and changing lives.

"I love it," he said. "It's one of the best things just seeing someone with so much joy and so much purpose, you giving them so much inspiration. That's the biggest thing. That means the world to me."