Vanderbilt football assistant coach Osia Lewis passes away at age 57

Lewis fought liver cancer while serving as a defensive coach for the Commodores.


Vanderbilt senior football defensive analyst Osia Lewis passed away on May 31, 2020. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Betsy Goodfriend, Deputy Sports Editor

Senior football defensive analyst Osia Lewis passed away Sunday morning after a three-year battle with liver cancer, according to the Vanderbilt athletic department. Lewis is survived by his wife and two children.

Lewis came to Vanderbilt in 2016 as an outside linebackers coach and senior defensive assistant before stepping away from on-field coaching due to his cancer diagnosis. Lewis had been a senior defensive assistant and special consultant to head football coach Derek Mason from 2017-2018 before becoming a senior defensive analyst in 2019.

His brave fight and leadership had a profound impact on the team.

Lewis’ 30-year coaching career began when he was hired as an assistant at Western Oregon University in 1989-90. He later earned his first FBS full-time coaching position at his alma mater, Oregon State. He coached linebackers and special teams from 1991-96 at Oregon State.

Lewis moved to the University of Illinois to coach linebackers and the defensive line from 1997-2002 before serving as the defensive coordinator at the University of New Mexico from 2003-2007. He also coached the defensive line and linebackers at New Mexico.

Lewis became the defensive coordinator at the University of Texas El-Paso for the following two seasons before serving as the defensive coordinator in the defunct professional minor league World Football League in 2010.

From 2011-2015, Lewis coached the defensive line at San Diego State, building a top-20 defense by his fourth year.

Lewis was loved by many in the Vanderbilt football community including director of player development Dr. Christy Russell.

Russell said in a tweet, “My heart is sad. Coach Lewis encouraged me daily. His strength, his character & his unselfish love for others made an impact on me & gave me courage to fight my battle with breast cancer. Rest well Coach Os, you will be missed.”