A football coach is on a mission to give students what he didn’t have growing up.

He is using sports to make a difference in his community.

Keith Lewis said people tried to block him from playing football because of his size.

“It keeps me going that people say I'm too small or I'm not good enough because it keeps me motivated to keep trying harder,” Lewis said.

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He is just in eighth grade and knows how easy it is to fall victim to life on the streets.

“There is still a lot of stuff going on around here,” Lewis said.

That’s where people like Coach Joseph Hooks come in.

“We're father figures. We're life coaches. We're their friends. We're also tough on them because we know life is tough,” Hooks said.

Coach Hooks said many of the people on his team are growing up in single-family households, some can’t afford cleats, and many of them know what it’s like to struggle.

“There are a lot of struggles that actually empower us coaches that motivate me to say I know why I'm here. They're going through so much and this is the best time in their life,” Hooks explained. “So we have to give them that environment so they feel like they can come talk to us.”

“Not only footballs and drills and hitting. He's a leader. He teaches you like life lessons,” Anthony Gengarella said.

Valuable lessons the kids and parents said seem to be sticking all through the game of football.

“Once something is hard, keep trying,” Lewis said. “Keep going because you never know what positive could happen.”