The Long Beach City Council honored NFL tight end and Poly High School graduate Marcedes Lewis at Tuesday’s city council meeting, handing him a plaque and officially proclaiming May 21 as Marcedes Lewis Day.

A travel snafu almost caused Lewis to miss the event, but he was able to make it back in time from the Turks and Caicos Islands, where he went to celebrate his 40th birthday.

“Long story short, it was supposed to be. I was supposed to be here,” Lewis said.

Poly High athletic director Rob Shock spoke glowingly of Lewis at the event organized by District 8 Councilmember Al Austin.

“Our role as educators and coaches is to build great citizens in our community,” Shock said. “Marcedes Lewis defines that for us at Long Beach Poly High School.”

Marcedes Lewis talks at City Hall during a ceremony honoring him. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Through the Marcedes Lewis Foundation, Lewis began hosting free yearly football camps at Poly High in 2008.

New England Patriots receiver and fellow Poly graduate JuJu Smith-Schuster is one of many young players who attended Lewis’ summer camps and now hosts his own yearly camp at the high school on Atlantic Avenue.

Lewis’ mom, Yvonne Withers, was an equal participant in the honors Tuesday.

“Mom, I want to thank you for just always pushing me and understanding where my buttons were,” Lewis said at the event. “You did a lot of things, sacrificed a lot of stuff that you didn’t have to.”

Withers raised the 18-year NFL veteran after having him at the age of 15.

“When I had those dog days at practice like, ‘Why am I here? Why am I doing this?’ I just had to think of what [my mom] did,” Lewis said.

Marcedes Lewis with his mother, Yvonne Withers. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

The tight end’s first year playing for Long Beach Poly was Shock’s first season as tight end coach.

“He helped me be a better coach because of his tenacity, his coachability [and] his eagerness to be great,” Shock said.

Lewis attended Poly High from 1998 to 2001, playing in arguably the biggest game in Poly’s history in a championship matchup against De La Salle on Oct. 6, 2001.

Longtime Poly head coach Raul Lara, now the head coach at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, said he still looks back on that game.

Marcedes Lewis hugs one of the many people who attend the hometown hero’s celebration of his outstanding career and contributions in Long Beach, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

“One thing that I kind of regret, I wish I was more in control of the offense back then because I definitely would have given [Lewis] the ball more,” he said. Poly lost the game 29-15.

After high school, Lewis went on to a distinguished college career at UCLA. He remains the active leader among Bruins tight ends for catches (126), receiving yards (1,571) and touchdowns (21).

The 40-year-old was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 28th overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft. He spent 12 seasons with the Jaguars, five seasons with the Green Bay Packers and played for the Chicago Bears last season. He is currently a free agent.