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Believe in Your Greatness: Trey's Story

Trey Lyles, the 6-foot-10 athlete from Indianapolis, has always been a team-first guy. Opposite of his soft-spoken, easygoing demeanor, the Denver Nuggets power forward is a force to be reckoned with on the court. With intense passion, focus and drive, Trey's exceptional work ethic and commitment to the sport fuels his basketball success. And luckily for us, he's just getting started.

Developing a strong work ethic

Trey and Tom Lyles

Trey's love for basketball runs in his blood. His father Tom, an Indianapolis native, played for Panola Junior College and Kentucky, and then professionally in Canada during the early 1990s, where he met his wife and started a family. When Trey was seven years old, Tom moved the family back to Indiana, and Trey joined his first basketball team: the Decatur Elementary Hawks. "He was pretty awful at first," Tom recalls with a chuckle. "But he was self-motivated to keep working at it."

Every morning before school, Trey woke his father up at 5 a.m. to practice. After school, and then again after dinner, they practiced more. It wasn't uncommon for them to spend up to eight hours a day in the gym, tirelessly working on Trey's basketball skills and footwork. "They really focused on the fundamentals," Trey's mom Jessie says. As Trey's self-proclaimed scorekeeper, she's recorded every game he's ever played. "Tom was always training and preparing Trey for the future, not just for the now."

Besides his dad, Trey's biggest inspiration is basketball great Kobe Bryant. Growing up he studied Bryant's every move, and even adopted the All-Star's alter ego, the "Black Mamba"—a reference to the snake in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" film known for its agility and aggressiveness. The nickname Trey "Mamba" Lyles stuck, and so did his mental toughness and love for the game.


Making his mark

Trey Lyles playing basketball

Heading into high school, Trey ranked as one of the top high school basketball players in the country. As a senior, he led Arsenal Tech to their first-ever boys state championship; it was the first for an Indianapolis Public Schools program in 34 years. "That game lifted up the community," Jessie recalls. "People got so excited. Trey and our family were so proud to be a part of it."

Trey's standout performance won him the titles of 2014 IndyStar Indiana Mr. Basketball, Gatorade Indiana Boys Basketball Player of the Year, and McDonald's All-American. He also became the second African American since 1940 to receive the IHSAA Arthur L. Trester Award for Mental Attitude. "His high school years were my favorite," Jessie adds. "When Arsenal Tech won state, it was probably better than any NBA game I'll ever watch."

Shortly after, Trey signed to play college ball with the University of Kentucky, contributing to an undefeated season for the Wildcats and a 2015 Final Four appearance. Following his freshman year, he was the #12 lottery pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, joining the Utah Jazz. As a rookie in the NBA, Trey excelled as a power forward and fulfilled his lifelong dream of playing on the same court as idol Kobe Bryant, in Bryant's final game before retirement.


Building strength and agility

Trey doing physical therapy with Ryan McNeely, DPT, OCS

To keep in peak physical condition on and off the court, Trey relies on his healthcare team at Hendricks Regional Health. Family physician Dr. Brian Leffler at Avon Family Health, sports medicine physician Dr. Mark Booher, and senior physical therapist Ryan McNeely provide dedicated support through the season. "It's amazing how much personal attention he gets from the Hendricks team, even when not in the facility," Tom says.

Physical therapy is critical to keeping Trey at the top of his game in the NBA. Stretches that align and open his hips allow him to cut and move smoother on the court. He works closely with Ryan, DPT, OCS, at the Hendricks Regional Health YMCA during his offseason to build strength and agility, and reduce his chance of injury.


Supporting his roots

Trey Lyles and his Hendricks physical therapy team

When he's not traveling or training, Trey can be found back home in Indiana, visiting with friends and family, unwinding with a jigsaw puzzle, and adding to his ever-growing collection of Nike basketball shoes. To give back to the place where it all started, he hosted an inner city youth basketball camp at Tech High School. The "Trey Mamba Lyles Skills & Training Camp" welcomed 200 future athletes, including a large number of IPS students. Trey matched the $2 fee for each camper and donated everything to cancer research.

Next up for the #7 Denver Nuggets player: Finishing the NBA season strong, with hopes of being named to All-Star in the next few years. His ultimate goal is to become the most versatile player in the NBA.

If there's one thing for certain, it's that Trey Lyles doesn't quit—and he's not slowing down anytime soon.


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For more on the Lyles family, read Tom's story here.