Talk about a small world.
Also taking place in 2005 was the sentencing of former NFL running back Jamal Lewis, who spent five months in state prison for brokering a drug deal between friends.
He just so happened to serve his time in Pensecola, Florida.
So one afternoon when Richardson’s mother went to visit a friend at a local prison, she brought Richardson along who just so happened to notice a familiar face in the meeting room. Jamal Lewis.
Richardson, who said he looked up to the former Baltimore Ravens running back introduced himself and said that the two talked about football, among other things:
Per Peter King:
“I went up there to visit her friend with her in this big room,” Richardson, now 22, recalls. “I noticed this man in the room, and I was like, That’s Jamal Lewis! I went up to him and introduced myself and that’s how it started. I used to go down there and see him when I saw her friend.”
Lewis says he doesn’t remember Richardson specifically—numerous inmates often invited their children to come speak with him about life experiences. Both Richardson and Lewis were dealing with ankle injuries back then: Lewis had ankle surgery before he was incarcerated, and Richardson, entering high school, would miss his freshman and sophomore seasons after ankle surgery. It was especially frustrating for Richardson, who viewed football as a way out of poverty for his family. Lewis had advice.
“I’d vent to him, and he would tell me what I needed to work on to stay in shape,” Richardson says. “He told me stuff like, ‘Take care of your body and be smart.’ ”