The chef flew in from Chicago the day before the Seahawks’ first home game against the New England Patriots, landing in Seattle around 6 that Saturday night. About 28 hours later, Andrew Sledd completed his latest culinary masterwork: four pounds of Cajun fried chicken, a pot of collard greens, an overflowing pan of macaroni and cheese, Cajun cornbread stuffing and, for desert, peach cobbler.
Sledd and his wife Marie had come to Seattle for the first time at the behest of Seahawks rookie offensive lineman Damien Lewis, who grew accustomed to Sledd’s cooking after his college games the past couple years at LSU. Lewis wanted that tradition to continue in Seattle. The Sledds were happy to oblige — and happy for an excuse to visit their 4-month-old grandson, Damien Lewis Jr., the first child for Savannah Sledd and Damien Lewis.
The family watched on a 70-inch TV as the Seahawks pulled off a last-second victory over New England, then waited for Lewis to get home. Then they feasted.
“Oh, it was nice,” Lewis said of the spread. “We had to do it the South way — ain’t too much soul food around here.”
For the Seahawks’ next game, Lewis came up with a way to show his appreciation for his future father-in-law, “Mr. Sledd,” as Lewis has insisted on calling him. The NFL gave formal approval of the gesture, and there it was on the back of Lewis’ helmet Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys:
The NFL has granted players permission to honor victims of police brutality and racial injustice this season. Many Seahawks players, Lewis included, began the season with Breonna Taylor’s name on their helmets. Lewis has a personal connection with someone he wanted to share, and he’s offering a hand — and a helmet — to help spread the message.
Sledd, a Chicago native whose mother is Black and father is white, was a 24-year-old basketball player at St. Xavier College when in 1989 he became a victim of police brutality. He is sharing his story in detail now, for the first time publicly, in hopes of continuing the conversation around racial injustices. He said he feels an obligation to speak for those victims — for Breonna Taylor, for George Floyd, for Jacob Blake and for the many Black victims before him — who cannot speak for themselves.
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” Sledd said.
The first bullet grazed the top of Sledd’s head. The next one almost killed him.
Officer Elroy Baker was firing his 9 mm gun over his shoulder, blindly shooting as he ran down a flight of 20 stairs. Baker, who was African-American, was one of seven Chicago police officers executing a search warrant at Sledd’s family residence around 10:30 p.m. on March 31, 1989, court records show. The narcotics team was looking for a man who didn’t live there and had no association with Sledd or his family. Officers were not wearing uniforms, they did not announce who they