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Believe in Inspiring Greatness: Tom's Story


The first thing you'll notice when Tom Lyles enters a room is his smile—instant, confident, sincere. Combine that with a cool, calm presence, and it's easy to see how he's quick to put people at ease. This trait especially comes in handy when he's coaching his son, Trey Lyles of the Denver Nuggets, and other young athletes both on and off the basketball court.

Getting his start


Tom began his basketball career in the 1980s at Panola Junior College in Texas. "Playing at the community college level was the most fun I had playing basketball," he says. "I really felt like I was part of a team." He then played briefly at Kentucky before making his professional debut in the NBA.

During the early 1990s, Tom moved to Canada to play with the Saskatoon Storm, a pro basketball team that competed in the World Basketball League. There he met his wife, Saskatoon-born Jesenka (Jessie) Lyles, and they started a family. By this time, Tom left his basketball career to pursue his passion as an R&B singer. When he wasn't in the recording studio, he enjoyed spending quality time with his family and shooting hoops with Trey.

In 2002, Tom moved his family to Indiana, where Trey's love for the game grew. "In Indiana, you have to know how to play basketball. It's like being in Canada and knowing how to skate," Tom says. It was then that Tom took on the role as teacher, and Trey became a student of the game.

Building his son's skills


Tom's biggest goal was helping his son learn the importance of having a strong work ethic. "I wanted him to know that to be great at anything, he had to work for it," he says. They practiced every day before and after Trey went to school, finishing after dark under the headlights of Tom's car.

To hone his skills, Tom had Trey focus on developing and mastering basic techniques in shooting, footwork and basketball handling. "He told me that I didn't need the fancy moves if I had mastered the fundamentals," Trey recalls. Off the court, they studied old footage together of basketball greats Bob Cousy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan.

By the time Trey reached high school, the hard work had paid off. After leading Arsenal Tech to a state championship victory his senior year—the first for an Indianapolis Public School since 1980—Trey signed with the University of Kentucky in 2014. Following a trip to the NCAA Final Four as a freshman with the UK Wildcats, he was the #12 lottery pick in the 2015 NBA draft, and then went on to play for the Utah Jazz before joining the Denver Nuggets in 2017.

Finding a trusted team


For Tom and his wife Jessie, it was important for them to find a physician close to home who could support their family's active lifestyle. Upon their move from Canada to Indiana, they met with board-certified family physician Dr. Brian Leffler at Avon Family Health. "We loved him and his philosophy of care," Jessie says. "And the rest was history."

When Tom started suffering from knee discomfort in 2012, Dr. Leffler referred him to sports medicine physician Dr. Mark Booher at Hendricks Regional Health, who helped him uncover the cause of his pain. An MRI revealed that Tom had floating particles in his knee due to years of constant stress and use. Tom then underwent a knee arthroscopy performed by orthopedic surgeon and joint replacement specialist Chad Waits, MD. Knee arthroscopy is a common procedure that gives a clearer view of the inside of the knee through small portals and is very effective in removing, repairing and treating damaged areas. After the procedure, dedicated physical therapy helped Tom regain pain-free mobility and get back to workouts with his son.

Inspiring tomorrow's athletes


Tom channels his enthusiasm for mentoring into his latest endeavor as entrepreneur. As the owner of Next Level Success, he works one-on-one with basketball players at the middle to late high school level. With a focus on skill building, Tom helps boost their confidence on the court and sharpen their understanding of the game. He genuinely gets to know each of his trainees and their stories, learns their talents and aspirations, and helps them to succeed.

Whether he's training tomorrow's athletes, or watching his son excel in the NBA, Tom is always there to cheer them on. As his wife Jessie describes pretty perfectly, he truly is "a molder of men."

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