GREEN BAY – Marcedes Lewis was 8 years old the first time his mother, Yvonne Withers, signed him up for football.
Or at least tried.
The child was a ball of energy who always had something to say with a deep, baritone voice well beyond his years. Lewis also was a head-size taller than his peers, making him an easy No. 1 selection whenever kids in his neighborhood held pickup games.
As a single mother working multiple jobs, Yvonne wasn’t thinking superstardom, scholarships or the National Football League when she scraped together the $75 registration fee.
All she wanted to do was keep her son off streets with dangerous tentacles that had latched onto several of Lewis’ close relatives.
Lewis spent most of his childhood in Long Beach, Calif. There were drugs, gangs and poverty. But even when money was its tightest, Yvonne’s goal was to keep her family “a few lights” away from the roughest parts of the area.
“I grew up on the East side of Long Beach. That’s where Snoop Dogg is from; Warren G, Nate Dogg,” Lewis explains. “When you heard gunshots, you didn’t think twice. You continued to play.”
Lewis and football began as an arranged marriage and the youngster treated it as such. Mom paid, so Lewis played but he wasn’t necessarily happy about it. When Yvonne was working, Lewis would walk 15 minutes to the city bus in pads and uniform and take…