A memorial service to honor TapouT founder Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr., who died last week in an early-morning California traffic accident, is set for April 14.
TapouT officials today released details of the service, titled “Simply Believe: A Celebration of Charles Mask’ Lewis Jr.”
It’ll take place at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif. The memorial service is open to the public.
“We first and foremost want to thank everyone – TapouT fans, (the) mixed-martial-arts community and more – for their kind words and support in the wake of Mask’s death,” stated TapouT co-founder Dan “Punkass” Caldwell. “Whether you’re a fan of MMA or not, Charles’ goal was to inspire people to make a difference in the world and never settle for anything less than their dreams. With TapouT he reached more people than we could have ever imagined, and his dedication to the sport and brand will live on forever through his fans around the world.”
TapouT President Marc Kreiner echoed those sentiments.
“Mask was the ultimate entrepreneur,” Kreiner stated. “I’m still in awe of his marketing and business prowess that brought his dream from the back of a pickup truck to a world-renowned brand. We’ll miss his drive and intensity for the business, but the leadership he instilled in the company will carry on.”
“Mask was one of the most genuine and honest people I have ever met,” TapouT crew member Timothy “Skyskrape” Katz stated. “He created TapouT as a way to share his passion and energy for MMA with the world, and the inspiration and attitude of TapouT will continue to live on in Mask’s memory.”
Lewis died on March 11 when his vehicle was struck by another car. The collision forced Lewis’ Ferrari over a curb and into a utility poll, which nearly cut the car into two pieces. Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene, and his girlfriend, Lacy Lynn White, was ejected from the vehicle and treated for a fractured elbow and several lacerations and abrasions.
Two days after the accident, the driver of the second car, Jeffrey David Kirby, was charged with one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence while intoxicated, one felony count of driving under the influence causing bodily injury, and sentencing enhancements for fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter and causing great bodily injury to multiple victims.
Kirby twice had been convicted of past DUI offenses. He now faces a maximum sentence of 19 years and eight months in state prison if convicted of the new charges.
Lewis, 45, founded Tapout Clothing Inc. in 1997 with a trunk full of T-shirts and a few thousand dollars of start-up money. Over the past decade, he and his partners have made the company the biggest apparel success story in MMA.
Tapout, which grossed just $30,000 in sales in 1999, pushed that number to more than $100 million in 2008 alone. The company now has licensed retailers (including the likes of Dillard’s and Champs) around the world and is one of the UFC’s most prominent sponsors.
Lewis was a fixture at MMA events around the world, and his company sponsored numerous fighters. He also appeared in a TapouT TV show that airs on Versus.
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