I was born in Jackson, Tennessee, and raised by my mother, Fran Lyles, a single mom who worked two jobs. Her work ethic had a profound impact on how I came to value effort and she taught me from a young age that with hard work and passion I could change the world for the better. Throughout middle and high school I maintained top marks while also focusing on sports: I was an active varsity basketball player and enthusiastic football cheerleader.
At fifteen I had the opportunity to take a class for students preparing to enter medical fields; after taking the Tennessee State Board Exam I passed as the youngest Certified Nursing Assistant in the program’s history. During my sophomore and junior years I volunteered as a Pre-Med student in the county’s largest public hospital, exploring my interest in medicine and community involvement.
Graduating from high school a year early, I pursued an undergraduate degree at Lambuth University. In junior year I had a teacher who made a massive impact on my life — he drastically shifted my understanding of the world, and the role that law and policy played in it. Because of this I changed my focus from Pre-Med to Law, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology with a concentration in Criminal Justice and a minor in Political Science. I later became a paralegal at the City of Memphis Attorney’s Office, and continued to grow my understanding of legislation, working to determine if a career as a lawyer was the path for me.
Soon after, as an Air Force Reservist, I was called on to report for training as the war in Iraq had commenced. Traveling throughout the United States and Germany with my three sons — Zerrick, Rico and Trey — I applied my medical expertise as a member of the medical squadron.
Moving to inactive service, I relocated to Alabama in order to pursue my law degree. I quickly became an active member of the law community there. During my first year of enrollment at the Birmingham School of Law I was elected into the role of President of the Black Law Students Association, became a member of the Alabama Lawyers Association and also joined the Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity. As my interest in civil rights, criminal law and fair justice grew, I had the opportunity to intern with Justice U.W. Clemon, the first African American appointed to Alabama’s Supreme Court, and a man who played a large role in shaping the work I would go on to do in Florida.
After a family illness required that my children and I move to Florida to assist, I recognized the lack of support available for many Americans seeking to pursue social security or disability claims; having completed my Masters Degree in Legal Studies, I applied my understanding of this field in order to work with clients who lacked the resources to pursue their claims alone. Additionally, I founded a non-profit organization that specialized in mediation: negotiating fair treatment for those who suffered civil rights violations, and finding solutions for those facing to eviction, helping them to avoid homelessness.
I have worked as a mediator, philanthropist and passionate advocate. My enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, avid interest in policy and commitment to multi-level ideas have led me here to the 2018 US Senate Race — and more importantly, here to you.
I want to use my passion and experience to deliver results, not rhetoric. I will work tirelessly to Empower Florida Together.