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Over the last several days -- after the news of India Lewis' tragic passing -- the stories have flooded in.

On Facebook, on Twitter, text messages, emails, conversations, there have been so many great memories of the former Siloam Springs star that have been shared with me.

I wish I could add my own to the mix.

Unfortunately, when India Lewis was starring for the Siloam Springs Lady Panthers, I was still in high school in Mississippi, still several years from becoming a sports writer.

I did get into sports writing for the student paper at LSU in 2000 when India was playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks women's team, but because of my main beat responsibilities I didn't get to cover a lot of women's basketball.

India Lewis is one that I wish I'd gotten the chance to see play in person.

I've seen comments from people over the last week that have made an impact on me. Sports writers whose opinions I respect saying that India was the best female high school athlete they've ever seen.

Sports fans flocked to wherever the Lady Panthers were playing each night with the hope that particular game might be the one where India goes off for 40 points. The most recent that comes to mind is when Malik Monk was playing for Bentonville.

Those kinds of players don't come around very often. India Lewis was one of those players.

I think some of the best stories about India aren't necessarily the ones that made the newspaper stories or highlight reels.

It's the tales of her coaching youth baseball, giving back to the sport that gave her so much joy while playing in Siloam Springs Youth Baseball and being the best player in a league full of boys.

A good friend of mine texted me Thursday morning and commented that he umpired a 14-year-old All-Star game in Siloam Springs way back when and India was the starting shortstop in that game.

My only interaction with India came just a few weeks ago at Creekside Taproom, which was hosting a benefit for her on July 20.

India wanted to show her appreciation to Siloam Springs that night and was determined she was going to attend that event, according to her parents Porky and Carmen Lewis.

She arrived with a police escort and interacted with everyone that came. There's no telling how much pain she was in that night because the smile on her face was a mile wide.

She believed that night -- and right up until the end -- that she was going to take down cancer just like any other obstacle that's ever stood in her way.

And though India's no longer with us, I refuse to say that cancer won this battle. The way the community of Siloam Springs, Northwest Arkansas and friends and family rallied around India Lewis shows that love won and will win every single time.

-- Graham Thomas is the managing editor for the Herald-Leader. He can be reached at The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Sports on 08/12/2018

Print Headline: Lewis gone but she won't be forgotten

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