World champion sprinters Noah and Josephus Lyles were born and raised in Alexandria, and now they’ve got the key to the city.
Last weekend, the brothers were inducted into the Alexandria City Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame, and on Monday night (October 10) they got a little extra. At a ceremony at Market Square, the pair were presented with the key and a commendation by Mayor Justin Wilson.
Noah, who won the bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, has been hailed for frankly discussing battles with mental health.
“The reason we’re here is not just your athletic pursuits, but what you have done using your platform that you have as an athlete to speak out on mental illness and make sure you raise awareness of that,” Wilson said. “We know that that advocacy that advocacy is not not just important, that advocacy saves lives.”
The 25-year-old is a 2016 graduate of T.C. Williams High School (now Alexandria City High School), and 24-year-old Josephus graduated in 2017. Following the Olympics, Noah ran the third-fastest 200m in history at the World Championships in July, clocking in at 19.31 seconds. Josephus also broke a personal record by running the 200m in less than 20 seconds on the U.S. National team. The brothers now live and train in Clermont, Florida.
After receiving the awards, Noah said he was surprised that talking about mental health would have an impact. Since he was a child, he and his brother have gone to family therapy, and have been open about their mental health challenges.
Noah said that he sees two therapists “quite often.”
“I truthfully did not realize how much of the impact I had on everybody when it came to mental health,” Noah said. “Until I came back from the Olympics, and everybody was talking about it. Even at the world championships this year, I had the honor to talking to the Second Gentleman of the United States, and we talked about mental health, and I was shocked, because my first thought is like, ‘Me? Why do you want to talk to me?’ I mean, I know I’m fast, but fast only gets you so far.”
Lyles continued, “And he’s said, ‘Well, you’re the only male that talks about mental health openly in a international level.’ And I thought to myself, ‘What? No, there’s, um, well, there’s… I never thought of that before. I never thought of my moment of, you know, being vulnerable as being so heroic.”
The brothers, who have a sports foundation, were also praised for giving ACPS more than $100,000 in Adidas sports attire to local high school athletic teams, including Alexandria City High School.
“It’s always a wonderful feeling when Alexandria City public school students work hard and realize success in their endeavors,” said School Board Chair Meagan Alderton. “One of their biggest achievements has been how they’ve developed as young men outside of sports. They have the character that will stand the test of time. We need more of that in this world.”
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