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Tapout founder Charles 'Mask' Lewis dies in Ferrari crash

charles lewis jr mask tapout charles lewis charles lewis junior charles lewis tapout

Charles  Lewis Jr., a.k.a "Mask," founder of the Tapout brand of mixed martial arts apparel label, has died in a Newport Beach car accident, reports our L.A. Now compatriot Ari B. Bloomekatz.

Although Newport Police would not release the name of the car crash victim pending notification of next of kin, press representatives of the  San Bernardino County-based company confirmed Lewis had passed away on Monday evening, with the following statement:

It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we must regretfully confirm the passing of our beloved friend, brother and co-founder Charles 'Mask' Lewis following a car accident that occurred last night. We are currently in the process of setting up a memorial service in his honor and will release more details as they become available.

Many thanks to all for the outpouring of blessings and well-wishing during this incredibly difficult time.

charles lewis jr mask tapout charles lewis charles lewis junior charles lewis tapout I  first met the San Bernardino native and his Tapout brethren -- who go by the names SkySkrape (real name unknown) and Punkass (a.k.a. Dan Caldwell) at an MMA expo in Long Beach last August as part of my Image section cover story about the boom in MMA apparel.

I spent several hours with him after that, each time walking away impressed how much he seemed to be genuinely grateful for each fan, clasping their hands in his, mugging for photos, hoisting toddlers on his broad shoulders for snapshots.

He seemed to be afraid of disappointing them. If initial reports are correct -- that he was racing his Ferrari against a Porsche before he died Wednesday about 1 a.m. -- his passing will have done just that, shuffling off this mortal coil as flamboyantly as he strode through it.

He was always quick with an analogy. I remember something he said when I asked about the future potential of MMA brands: “If this is the Yellow Brick Road and Oz is in the distance, we’re still trying to go up the path to find the Tin Man, Scarecrow and the Lion."

But even in my brief encounter with him, I could see something deeper and more meaningful behind the face paint and floppy camo hat. At one point before I left the Tapout compound in Grand Terrace last August, Lewis sat across from me in the conference room. After a question about the spiritual undertones of the sport -- the good vs. evil, the abundance of crosses and crusader imagery -- he leaned forward, flashed a wide Chesire Cat smile, and whispered almost conspiratorially. "We all want to feel like we're David taking on Goliath." For a brief instant, I had met the man behind the Mask.

It's a shame that so many MMA fans will mourn the passing of the outsized gentle giant with the drill-sergeant demeanor and and so few will have had the rare privilege to see the man beneath it.

-- Adam Tschorn

RELATED:

L.A. Now: Crash kills mixed-martial-arts designer

Image section: As cage fighting's popularity grows, Tapout label no longer battles for recognition

Web Gallery: Tapout's fighting style

Web Gallery: Battle of the MMA apparel brands
 

Top photo: Charles "Mask" Lewis  (center) with Dan "Punkass" Caldwell (l) and SkySkrape (r) at the Tapout headquarters in Grande Terrace, Calif. in 2008; Bottom photo: From left, SkySkrape, Mask and Punkass are the faces of Tapout. Mask, a.k.a. Charles Lewis Jr. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times.

 
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Aw this sucks! He owns one of my art pieces.

R.I.P. brotha.

live fast, die young, leave a good looking corpse...fighter pilots creed

Adam Tschorn's opinion that if Lewis' death was the result of street racing (as seems likely) it would be an example of dying flamboyantly, just like he lived. How wrong, and what a stupid and awful thing to say! If he was racing, it is an example of a fool risking his life, his girlfriend's life, and the lives of who knows how many innocent drivers and other people around him. Live stupidly, die stupidly, and leave a mangled corpse.

Adam Tschorn's opinion that if Lewis' death was the result of street racing (as seems likely) it would be an example of dying flamboyantly, just like he lived. How wrong, and what a stupid and awful thing to say! If he was racing, it is an example of a fool risking his life, his girlfriend's life, and the lives of who knows how many innocent drivers and other people around him. Live stupidly, die stupidly, and leave a mangled corpse.

If you are dumb, you die...charles darwin creed

Live stupidly, die stupidly, and leave a mangled corpse.

Driving like fool, racing a 911. If you have a high performance car, that doesn't mean you have the ability to push it to the limit. When I was in my late twenties, I had a car that could do 175 MPH. I never got it over 150MPH. That was as fast as I could handle. The car was a Pontiac Formula 400, that my brother and I really build up. My next car was a Datsun 280ZX. I never got that over 120MPH. My final muscle car was a Pontiac Firebird with a 454. Same thing, never over 125MPH. I got a ticket once at 115MPH, it cost a FORTUNE, and I slowed down...

Sad sad ending... too bad this young entrepreneur was reckless with his success.

Pay tribute to Mask this Friday by wearing your tapout gear! More information can be found here: http://www.mmahotstuff.com/about/2009/03/pay-tribute-to-mask-and-the-tapout-crew-this-friday.html

To some one he was a brother, a son, a boyfriend, an ex ,a best friend, or simply some one you admire my heart goes out to all the people that knew him. Remember all the good times you had together! R.I.P.
Vic Vaca

He was a good man I knew him since my cousin is founder of warrior wear..be didn't deserve to go but driving so fast and idioticly is the wrong way to leave this earth. Iv never got my nova over 130 and I only did it once and won't do it again..it's not worth killing your self over..who knows wut really happend all we do is think wut we think....R.I.P brother mask..we will miss and and thank u for all the things u have done for MMA

To bad, this guy appeared to be a good soul and a real person. Did not deserve to go this way.......Orlando

i own a Ferrari as well but i dont race it...this sucks that he raced it....just because your car CAN go that fast, doesn't mean you should try it....RIP Mask you were a great friend..

I does not matter how he died, its how he lived if you go on Tapout.com and watch the movie they made and see where he came from, sleeping on couches and selling his shirts out of his car. That takes guts and for some of to sit there behind your computer screen, making light of his death. Keep in mind you will never come close to doing what "Mask" has done in his life, he's someone's son,brother,uncle and friend have some respect.

yeah, ya' know its so so sad. too bad he didn't smash into somebody else to take with him. maybe some of your friends & family. adios to a good example of a bad example.

wow... some of you people are very rude.. did you even know this guy? or anything about him other than "yes" he was an idiot for racing another car while intoxicated? As an avid fan of MMA i have watched this guy and the Tap Out crew grow over the many years into the multi million dollar company they are now. I even used to watch the Tap Out television series they ran for a couple years. To be completely honest i never was crazy about "mask", he was a little abnoxious and over the top about 99% of the time on the show and anytime i had seen him.. BUT he was never the less a Human being! Its a very sad story and even though i wasnt his biggest fan i do respect him for what he did on his short time here on earth.. I hope he was right with the man when he went! GOD BLESS...

how about we stop critizing charles for his choices... he had a choice, we all have, make choices everyday... respectfully i'd rather die living my life to the fullest and not playing it safe... if i had enough money to buy a car like that i wouldn't drive it slow either... don't tell me you wouldn't. charles did a lot of great things for a lot of different people, he saw and brought out the goodness in everyone around him. he gave people second chances even if they didn't deserve it. he was a good man...

Rest in piece Charles Mask Lewis- a pioneer in the sport of MMA

Famous to infamous in a blink of stupidity.

Man, this guy had the courage to live life most people dream about. He was a good guy who lived large, envisioned great things for himself and made it happen. Sometimes we all make bad decisions. Too bad sometimes these bad decisions are so unforgivable.

I hope Mr. Lewis' family can find solace and peace in this time of such tragedy. I hope that the surviving assenger can recover quickly. Rest in peace Mr. Lewis.

He was an inspiring human being.

not only did he gain sucssess for himself he also cared for others. As seen on the show tapout. He helped many new fighters in the sport get on their feet and out of trouble. Always the good guys to go!

so sad ! just remember live every day like it could be your last . i've done over 170MPH and I'll do it again, it is what I live for topush the limits you live for doing the things you LOVE ! and if it cost's you your life at least ya die doing what makes your life worth living even if it is a little dangerous . some of us crave that excitement , it is what makes us strive for more and to push the limits . RIP Mask you will be greatly missed!!!!!

I created a memorial in his name. Please visit and leave a message, light a candle, share a story, etc.

http://www.ilasting.com/charleslewis.php

Charles will be missed. I worked on his television show and road around in that bus with him for the better portion of a year and all I can say is that regardless of how he passed, the reason he was so successful was b/c everything he did was to try to give back to the sport that he loved and the people he believed in. On many occaisions he pulled me aside and gave me the encouragement I needed to be a better person in everything I did. Whether in character or not I can say that the man behind the mask and the Mask himself will most certainly be missed. B3LI3V3.

So sad to lose such a beautiful car.....

Its a shame that some of us leave this life way too young.
I work for a company that just inked a deal to work with their line of clothing and accessories and really hoped to meet these guys in person, being the huge fan of TAPOUT and MMA that I am.
Our thoughts are with the TAPOUT family and friends.
God Bless

Dan M.

Yawn - just good he didn't take an inocent bystander with him.

Anyone know what year he was born, how old he was? Trying to find some info on him for an obit...

This is a true American tragedy. I was just introduced to the Mask the day before his death on a Tony Robbins infomercial. What a great story, a great road to success that led to a senseless death, my sympathy to all who cared.........

Of course comments are moderated....would not want any one to say anything bad about a useless DRUNK DRIVER!

IN A LOT OF PEOPLES EYES, MASK WAS A SUPER HERO. HIS FANS WILL MISS HIM DEARLY. IT'S SAD TO SEE THESE THINGS HAPPEN, BUT AT SOME TIME EVERY MORTAL MUST TAPOUT. TO THE FACE AND MAN BEHIND THE MASK, R.I.P. BROTHER!! YOU WILL BE FOREVER MISSED.

I THINK ALL U PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST SITTING AROUND ON THE COMPUTER PUTTING DOWN A GREAT MAN'S LIFE NEED TO GET A LIFE. DO ANY OF YOU PEOPLE THAT ARE WRITING THESE COMMENTS EVER THINK OF OTHER PEOPLE'S FEELINGS. WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE READING THESE COMMENTS ABOUT YOUR DAD, BROTHER, OR FRIEND? REMEMBER HOW MASK LIVED HIS LIFE NOT HOW HE DIED. MY FAMILY WILL MISS HIM AND WILL HONOR HIS LIFE.

Role model? Try new poster boy for stupidity.

what if he killed some innocent person and he survived while "doing something he loved." Would it still be worth it. NO. I have no sympathy for him only his family. he did something that is illegal and moronic. Nothing about the way he died should be glorified. It's the same attitude that people have by idiotlizing "celebrities" who die of overdoses. Why are they glorified while the people who live their lives clean and legal are pawned as "squares." I agree with: Live stupidly, die stupidly, and leave a mangled corpse

My mother always said if you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all. It's stupid that some of you can say all kinds of awful things about this person who has done so much for the MMA community! No one is perfect! God bless this man and his family. He has done a lot for lots of up and coming fighters while trying to find the next "Diamond in the rough," as he would have said. He is a legand and I know he will be missed. I'll still sport my Tapout every event I get! RIP

i always wanted to me him.. i know you loved him punkass i'm pray for you..

I've had the opportunity to be one of TapouT's photographers for the past 2 years. I am almost positive he was Not under the influence, but the other guy Kirby was and according to police that porsche had side impact damage. I believe Mask got side swiped by Kirby and thats why he lost control. All 3 of the partners Mask, PunkAss and Skrape were and are all Great Great guys. In my 18 years as a pro Photographer there is one really memorable time that a client really made me feel Great. That time was about a year ago and TapouT was exhibiting at the clothing convention in Vegas called MAGIC. We were walking through the convention, the film crew was filming and Mask among all the chaos of people wanting autographs came up to me put his hands on my shoulders and told me Kenton, I want you to know you are doing a Great job and I appreciate all your hard work, thank you. I was blown away that among everything that was going on he made it a point to tell me something that really made me understand that he was a caring, considerate and passionate man. He touched people like that daily because he had an outlook on life that was so positive. I will miss his crazy personality and his willingness to welcome strangers as if they were long time friends. Mask, you will never be forgotten.

Kenton Pappacostas

RIP. Many will thank him for the products they create.

RIP - Truly a genuine caring individual!!!

His rise is a true rag to riches story.

I enjoyed his company when he attended two MMA events in South Florida.

He will truly be missed to the industry!

An inspiration? More like a prodigy of a fighters character role model "Pov". Always on the optimistic side of things, looking for something positive in the worst of negative personality. A bright motivated man which had made himself an entrepreneur through hard-work and some luck, of course with the Irish shamrock if u will bare. Lucky fellows fell into the footsteps of the tap-out crew which ultimatly led to these fighters fame and fortune. All in cause of a reckless man, in a rumble to seek the gifted personalities that even the weak and prideful fighters have once flourished. In conclusion this mans wish to flourish his prophecy to be reckless in the fighting world, regretfully had misfortunes in turn of a life tragedy. RIP. Love- The fans, fighters, and children.

He was a Great guy and will be missed
lived life and worked hard on tap out what it is today
continue your hard work( TAP OUT CREW )
Punkass and all the crew follow you dreams like he would want you too

Anthony
Felonyfights

Ok let me just start out with Greg Mafnas and Adam Tschorn's you guys are major tools especialy you Greg do you realy think that anyone on hear cares about your car or driving history? Any ways look to all the people talking bad about Charls lewis and the way that he died get over it he was the the American dream, he was a self made man that had nothing and went to everything. He was an amazing guy with a great outlook on life and the world is better having known. It doesnt matter if you think he was odd or weird because of how he appeared or dressed or even lived. Charles "Mask" Lewis was an inspiration.

life is for those to live out there dreams no sense of living if you dont live to see your dream skyscraper and punkass and family sorry for your losses and sure hope the episode continues you know thats what he would want
R.I.P MASK

I've known since we were kids next door. Miss You and May God bless you


Peace and Love

R.I.P SWEETHEART!!!!
HANG IN THERE GUYS!!
LOL
GOD BLESS!!!
XOXXOXOXO'S

The world has witnessed a true "Original" Try to imagine anyone walking this planet that could fill his shoes in the MMA community, the ground he broke, the people he effected, the impact he had on our sport!.....the friends who loved him.....the friends HE loved. I will say again......TRUE ORIGINAL


DAM I MISS YOU MASK..........

Mask U were ahead of your time.
He hooked up unknown fighters and gave them
a chance to go Big in MMA...A Big Heart,and a cool person....
We all take risks Good or Bad it doesnt matter.. Mr Lewis just push the envelope right to the EDGE........ Mask u will be greatly missed! U WERE AHEAD OF YOUR TIME.
Aloha
God bless
Cuz

I just want to say I wish I knew him. I'm in the same business as he was, just at a different level of course! but he was my hero, I watched his show I tried to mimic the way he did some things becuase I wanted what he had. I know we are different but wanted the same thing as he did. I hope my path leads in same direction as his! MASK will live on in colorado & in my heart. I hope the best for his family & friends! "BangR"

 
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