by Noah Lyles

Dear Mom,

It feels really personal to talk about this, but you know when people ask “who inspires you?” and they tend to refer to an athlete or a coach – the truth is – the person I always instantly think about is you.

Yes, you’re my mom, but you can’t imagine the impact you have on my life to this day. And I know you’ve not always had it easy. We both know you’ve been through quite a bit.

Remember, when I was thirteen, you and dad got a divorce and Josephus and I moved out with you and Abby stayed with him? Remember, when we lived in a single apartment, when there was just the three of us? We slept on the floor. We had the power go out at times. For a while, we stayed in uncle Rahsaan’s basement.

And I remember the day we eventually ended up moving to Virginia. Abby came to live with us again after two years and we all started going to school there. And finally, we were able to get our own apartment again.

You’ve always worked so hard for us. The first job I remember you doing was selling make-up. And I remember you were really good at it. You’d put your mind to something, and you’d crush it.

That’s something I learnt from you from a very young age: set yourself goals, and go after them!

I remember there was this prize you’d get, if you sell enough products to enough people in a certain amount of time, you’d get a new car. And of course, you got the car in like three months or something like that! Because you’d decided you deserved that car. And you did.

But selling things wasn’t the right job for you. Helping people is in your genes. You took on a new job, working as a councillor with underprivileged schools in the area, helped kids with learning difficulties and development problems.

And of course you put all of the time you had away from work into us – your kids.

If anybody asks me, you’re “the momager”. You’ve been our momager since my freshman year of high school. I remember, from the moment Josephus and I came to you with the dream that we wanted to make the 2016 Olympic Team, you told yourself “ok I don’t know how this is gonna happen, but if this is their dream, I gotta do some research.”

And you did your research, and you figured out what the next steps would have to be. I started making US teams. The next year Josephus made one, and we made a US team every year of our high school careers. 

It was such a stepping stone, a foundation of what we would expect when we would finally get to the Olympic Trials. We won’t be petrified of what we see there, we’ll know what everything is, what the call-room is, how the team is organised, the mixed zones, all these different things when they walk you out, you put your bags in the baskets, just things you wouldn’t know if you’d have just stayed at a high school level. And it was because you did your research. 

Of course there were ups and downs. 

I’ll never forget this one time, where we went to Walmart. Josephus and I wanted to get a pair of shoes from Walmart – and you know Walmart shoes might be like $11 –you had to explain to us that we couldn’t afford it at the time. And I know that must have been heartbreaking for you. 

But watching you evolve from that point to everything you have achieved since, really gives me the strength to know there is nobody tougher than my mom and I want be like you one day.

The way that you raised us, it blows my mind how I’m so lucky to have a mom like you.