On Tuesday, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, at the request of family friend and language arts teacher, Cathy Malone, visited Kings Junior High School in Kings Mills, Ohio, to deliver a 20-minute motivational speech to 600 students, according to the Dayton Daily News.
In his speech, Lewis told the students that they need to take advantage of their youth and focused a lot on building character.
"Grab as much as you can grab and soak it all up ... because once you leave and go on to college, it’s going to cost you,’ he said.
"Character is what we’re about and what we stand for," he said. "Think about how you want people to perceive you. Do they perceive you as the person who always takes shortcuts or do they perceive you as the person who is always most prepared?"
Lewis also told the kids to set goals and then strive to achieve them and that they should reject anything that would hold them back from their dreams. He also said that they should not shy away from seeking help from friends, parents or teachers when they faced a tough decision.
"Don’t let anybody ever set limits on your life," he said. ""Don’t let anybody ever set limits on anything you ever do."
"Don’t think that you are ever the first person that’s been faced with those kind of decisions," he said. "Know that there are people in your life that care a great deal about you and they will help you through those decisions."
Malone called Lewis' speech a "breath of fresh air" for the students, who are in the middle of a particularly long stretch of school. For his time, the junior high school principal, Tom Spinner, donated a check worth $500 to the Marvin Lewis Community Fund. The money was raised by the Parent Teacher Organization selling $1 raffle tickets.
"A lot of times we see the kind of person he is as a football coach on TV, but these are the kind of things you don’t hear about," Spinner said. "For him to take time out of his schedule to talk with 600 junior high students says a lot about his character."
Of taking the time to talk to young students, Lewis said that it's a great opportunity to use his position to encourage kids to do well.
"Anytime I get an opportunity to come out and speak to young people, I’m going to take advantage of that," he said.