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Former D1 Athlete Becomes Army Ranger, Doctor, and Entrepreneur

Former D1 Athlete Becomes Army Ranger, Doctor, and Entrepreneur
Photo Courtesy: Harrison Lewis

By: Maria Williams 

The founder of GRND, Harrison Lewis, personifies the unwavering pursuit of greatness. Lewis, a doctoral candidate in physical therapy, a former Army Ranger, a second-generation Army Officer, and a Division 1 athlete, has turned his life’s struggles and victories into a successful company. In addition to being a sportswear and streetwear brand, GRND is a black-owned company run by veterans. It is a symbol of strength, tenacity, and camaraderie.

Lewis grew up in a small Louisiana town and experienced many difficulties at a young age. Even though he was a gifted football player, he frequently heard that his height prevented him from playing linebacker in a division-one team. This criticism simply made him GRND harder. 

Shortly after his freshman season, Lewis felt a burning desire for more. As much time as he had devoted to sports, he felt a call to service and answered. In 2016, he completed the Army’s premier leadership course, US Army Ranger School, and received the coveted Ranger Tab. He went on to serve in Joint Special Operations Command in both the 75th Ranger Regiment and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR). 

In 2018, while training for a combat deployment, tragedy struck. Captain Connor Bednarzyk, Harrison’s roommate and best friend, was killed in a training incident. This life-altering loss changed his worldview and struck fire to his pursuit of a higher purpose. In 2022, after serving 7 years in the military, Harrison left service to create.

While studying for his Doctorate, Harrison spent many nights reflecting on his journey. When thinking of all that had taken place, the word “GRIND” was drafted. As he considered the sacrifices that brought him to this place, he erased the letter “I.” “When I wrote the word GRIND, it just didn’t resonate with me, but when I erased the ‘I,’ I realized that we are all on the GRND. We all wake up daily and GRND for something greater than ‘I,’ whether it be for our families, our communities, our country, or our future. We decide every day. That’s the GRND,” Lewis said.

The mission of GRND is to inspire people to give 100% and then some in sports, fitness, and life. The values Lewis developed while serving in the military are the foundation of the brand. “Our values stem from the experiences of life and the light we hope to shed on our community. From playing sports, serving our country, and developing our mind to uplift the next generation, our values sit at the core of who we are as a brand, but also act as a guide in our aspiration to leave an impact,” Lewis asserts.

However, there were several difficulties in starting a business while getting a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. It took a great deal of devotion to juggle the demands of entrepreneurship with his academic career. Apart from that, the path was made even more difficult by the fact that he was from a tiny town with few resources and no entrepreneurial mentors. But Lewis’s military training and unwavering determination enabled him to get over these challenges.

In the crowded fitness and streetwear industry, Lewis’s distinct narrative and point of view set GRND apart. He provides an inspiring story of resiliency and willpower as a black kid from South Louisiana who overcame adversity to become a D1 athlete, Army Ranger, and now a Doctor of Physical Therapy. His story speaks to a broad range of people, including athletes, warriors, and those pursuing their dreams.

“It’s more than a clothing brand; the GRND is an emotion,” Lewis states. Whether in sports, the workplace, or one’s personal life, it symbolizes the daily fight and effort made by everybody to make a difference. The brand’s ideals, which include overcoming hardship, keeping one’s word, and giving back to the community, are inspired by Lewis’s goals and life lessons.

Harrison Lewis sees GRND building a training center in Dallas, Texas. In addition to housing GRND apparel’s headquarters, GRND HQ will include a private sports-related medical clinic and a strength and conditioning program. His ambition is to Create initiatives that provide sports rehab for young black athletes and programs for Veterans who are in need of skilled rehabilitative care, resources, and educational support.

Published by: Holy Minoza

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