Saints player Keenan Lewis held a free football camp and peace rally against violence Saturday.
Under cloudy skies, the group of dedicated mentors and kids took to the field inside Tad Gormley stadium to improve their athletic skills but also to hear a few heartbreaking life lessons.
“Killed my girl, my heart, my everything. I watched her die,” said Corey Juluka, 20, told the young crowd. “She died in my hands, blood all over me.”
It was the first time he spoke publicly about how a feud he had on the street which ended up leading to his girlfriend 20-year-old Milan Arriola’s death.
“We all are brothers and we all got to come together,” Juluka said. “Just like it happened to me, you saw what happened with Will Smith, a legend in the city.”
The group behind Saturday’s free camp and peace rally was the Keenan Lewis Foundation led by the New Orleans Saints cornerback himself.
Lewis took a moment to talk to the campers.
“I grew up in the neighborhoods y’all grew up in, it wasn’t always easy for me,” he said. “I had it rough just like you, moving from house to house. The struggle, it was real.”
The west bank native and supporters spent part of the day teaching kids about football, but more importantly talking about how the community needs to stop the violence. Adults and kids took a moment to walk in solidarity around the stadium as a symbol of hope.
Lewis said he’s tired of seeing the city he loves shown in a negative light. His goal is to spread positivity and show kids at camps like this violence is not the answer.
“That doesn’t make you a better person, you don’t get rewarded for that,” Lewis said about violence. “You get rewarded for going to school, getting good grades, being active in your community.”
The camp and peace rally was a free event. Moving forward Lewis said he’d like to hold similar gatherings at least once a month.