Janeé Lewis gets competitive edge from football-star father
Former Washington great Greg Lewis never made games easy for his daughters, and now his youngest leads Franklin into the Class 3A state tournament.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The 7-year-old refused to quit.
Let's play again, Janeé Lewis told her father as he started to put the dominoes away.
And so they would.
"We would play over and over until I could beat him," Janeé said.
That was never easy. Greg Lewis gave the game his best, the same way he did as a record-setting running back at Washington in the late 1980s. Whether it was Janeé or Briana, her older sister, they had to earn their victories against Dad. In the game room or on the basketball court, Greg wouldn't hold back.
"I never let them win at anything," he said. "They had to earn the victory. I don't know if that makes me a good dad or a bad dad, but my whole thing is they've got to earn a win. I want them to know what the real world is like. Nothing's ever going to be given to you."
Briana helped Garfield win a state basketball title as a sophomore in 2005. This week, Janeé seeks the same prize, hoping to lead fourth-ranked Franklin to the Class 3A championship.
"That is our goal, but we're going in taking it one game at a time," the senior guard said.
Janeé was a freshman on the 2009 team that placed fifth — Franklin's first trip to the tournament since finishing second in 1995. The Quakers from Seattle have never won a girls title, although the boys own six championships.
This year's team started slowly at 4-3, but has reeled off 18 consecutive victories. Franklin's quarterfinal matchup Thursday is against unbeaten and second-ranked Kamiakin of Kennewick at 3:45 p.m. at the Tacoma Dome.
"We're playing as a team now," Janeé said. "Everybody contributes. We just have a good bond. ... I know if we work as a team, we can accomplish anything."
The can-do attitude comes in part from her dad, who is in the Huskies' Hall of Fame and played three seasons with the Denver Broncos before a knee injury forced him to retire. Now 42, he is UW's Director of Advancement in the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity.
"We both are real competitive," Janeé said, comparing herself to her father. "If we want something, we both go for it. We don't stop until it's accomplished."
How alike are they? Franklin coach Jasen Thomas describes them as "twins."
"They're both very opinionated and strong-willed," he said.
Greg and the girls' mother, Felichia, divorced in 2002, but co-parented until Felichia moved to Chicago during Janeé's freshman year.
"It made us get closer," Janeé said of her relationship with her father. "As a ninth-grader, he had to be there for me and my girl problems."
She likes the notoriety Greg enjoys in Seattle. Everyone knows him.
"It's a good feeling when we're out in the community," she said. "So, I look up to him and I want to be like that ...
"He just keeps me motivated and makes me want to be like him and live up to what he accomplished."
Occasionally, the strong-willed father and daughter clash. Greg, who played basketball as well as football at Ingraham, coached both of his daughters at the club level, but took a step back last summer.
"We needed some space," he said.
Janeé and Franklin teammates Patrice Toston and JaDae Brundidge played on the Rotary Lady Style team that won three national tournaments and placed second at three others.
And this week at the Tacoma Dome, they want to cap their prep careers with a state title.
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