Raymond Lewis documentary to make Los Angeles debut

Director-producer Ryan Polomski from the documentary "Raymond Lewis: L.A. Legend" poses for a photo.
Director-producer Ryan Polomski from the documentary, “Raymond Lewis: L.A. Legend.”
(Dean Prator)

“Raymond Lewis is the baddest dude you’ve ever seen.”

That’s how the movie trailer begins for the documentary “Raymond Lewis: L.A. Legend.”

One of the 45 individuals interviewed for the film describes Lewis, who led Verbum Dei High to three Southern Section championships from 1969 to 1971, averaged 32.9 points in his only season playing college basketball at Cal State Los Angeles in 1972-73 and was a first-round draft choice of the Philadelphia 76ers at age 19 but never played a game in the NBA because of a contract dispute, that way.

Lewis died on Feb. 11, 2001, at age 48.

Ryan Polomski, the film’s director, said, “This documentary is meant to tell the long story of perhaps Los Angeles’ greatest high school basketball player ever. His story was an amazing, heartbreaking story that has lessons for people in all walks of life. His greatness needs to be remembered.”

There’s a young Bryant Gumbel interviewing Lewis. You can hear Ross Porter describing Lewis playing basketball for Verbum Dei during a game of the week on KNBC. Late Nevada Las Vegas coach Jerry Tarkanian spoke about Lewis in one of his last interviews.

“This is a guy who had incredible talent,” Polomski said. “Everybody has dreams and through choices of his own and beyond his control came up short on his dreams and a lot can relate to that and how you handle failures.”

The documentary took years to make, with Polomski and co-producer Dean Prator doing the organizing. Archival photos and videos were retrieved from attics and storage bins.

The film makes its Los Angeles premiere at the San Pedro International Film Festival on Nov. 6 at the Warner Grand Theater. It’s 92 minutes long. Admission is free but you have to register.