The extraordinary tale of Lance Lawson
November 30, 2017 by Will Tyrrell, Arizona State University
MESA, AZ - It all started on a flag football field where 6-year-old Lance Lawson was running up and down, shifting side to side and making defenders miss. It was on those very fields where parents and coaches compared him to running back great Barry Sanders.
Those comparisons set the stage for Lawson to look up to Sanders, who became his favorite running back. He spends his time on YouTube studying No. 20 in Hawaii blue and silver, making defenders miss in the old Pontiac Silverdome, and brought those same moves onto the high school fields in Arizona.
“I always just watch him, and [the] type of moves he made, the vision he had for holes and he's didn’t have a great line so a lot of his runs he made himself,” Lawson said.
Lawson also looked up to Kobe Bryant, which he made sure to mention, believes is the greatest of all time, and the intangibles Bryant brought.
“With Kobe, definitely just the work ethic, trying to emulate how much passion he has for the game, “Lawson said. He also notes Bryant’s “mamba mentality.”
YouTube is where Lawson observes. He observes Barry Sanders and his playmaking, Kobe and his passion. He loves watching the mic’d up videos the NFL releases each week. He observes how the players interact with one another and will sit in amazement while watching basketball high lights because of how tall and athletic they are.
One of first things you notice about Lawson is his humility, despite putting up record career numbers for Red Mountain.
Lawson has started for the school since his freshman year putting up 3,070 rushing yards, 1,188 receiving yards, 1,5765 passing yards -- totaling up to 5,663 yards and 47 touchdowns.
“That means a lot to me, just to know that all the hard work and all the dedication for the game is paying off,” Lawson said.
“And people being able to see that, it's not just watching the games, but also being able to see my numbers too. That means a lot to me.”
Athleticism runs in the Lawson family.
Lawson’s father, David Lawson, was drafted in the ninth round of the 1990 MLB draft out of West Covina High School in Covina, California, by the Seattle Mariners.
Lawson enjoyed playing baseball growing up, along with basketball, but those sports just were “not as physical” for him.
Being able to play for a high school in Mesa like Red Mountain and having this type of career means more to him than the average football player. When Lawson would suit up every Friday night for the Mountain Lions, it was more than just his parents and his siblings or a few family friends that saw him play. Lawson got the rare privilege that not all athletes get. He got a full cheering section full from his old youth football coaches, aunts, uncles, grandparents and even great grandparents.
“Being able to stay in Mesa and have the success with the team and having my family come to all the games that was definitely a big deal for me,” Lawson said.
According to 247 Sports, Lawson is the 57th-ranked player in the state of Arizona. He received an offer from the University of Arizona but has still yet to give a verbal commitment to any school.
No matter where he goes, Mesa is special to Lawson. It is where his family is and it is where his friends are, and have always been. He is still friends with guys on the team that he played Pop Warner with years back. And if they didn’t play Pop Warner together, they have played together since eighth grade. When he isn’t at school with his friends he is cracking jokes, and sending funny videos to them. He says, “they are all just super close like that.”
When people hear the name Lance Lawson they think of the numbers he put up, the highlight plays he made, or wondering where he is going to commit to.
At the end of the day Lawson is just a kid with a dream. He once had a dream of going to Red Mountain to bring a winning tradition. A dream he has accomplished after being a key part of two consecutive trips to the state semifinals.
He has a dream of playing college football, a dream that will begin within the coming months at whatever program he chooses to sign with.
And, of course a dream to play in the NFL. You can scoff and laugh at the dream, but that’s the point of dreams. Dreams aren’t supposed to be universally loved and supported. That’s why when they come true they are so special.
Maybe, one day a kid from Mesa will be attached to his phone watching Lance Lawson highlights.