It’s been more than 40 years since Robert Lyles played football at Belmont High School in Los Angeles, which put him on track to play in the NFL, but his classmates and teammates haven’t forgotten him.
“You know, he couldn’t even get through the door, because his afro was so big,” former teammate James Bolden recalled.
And as current players for the Belmont Sentinels took the field for their first home game of the school year, Lyles wasn’t far from their minds either.
The former linebacker is currently in a Texas hospital and in need of a new heart, according to friends.
“Robert has been hospitalized in critical condition at Baylor St. Luke’s Hospital since July 12, 2022. The medical staff and other employees have given Robert the most extraordinary care available. However, his medical insurance has expired and did not cover a fraction of the costs,” Lyles’ close friend Randy Carodine wrote on a GoFundMe campaign created to help him. “A heart transplant, as you can imagine, is an astronomical cost. Robert has been through several life-saving procedures thus far. The current life sustaining measures are only temporary. Robert needs a new heart immediately.”
He’s also in need of $100,000 to pay for medical expenses.
“I know him personally. Robert will give you anything. And he’ll give you his heart,” Bolden said.
That’s why Bolden and other alumni who knew Lyles gathered at the field where he used to play, hoping to collect donations to help their friend.
Their hope is to one day see him back on this field where it all started.
“Bobby, when you get better man, come on down. Come on down. We want to talk to you. Want to put some love on you, alright?” one well-wisher said.
“It’s been many years, but we never forgot you. You’re a good guy. You’re a big man on campus, and you’re still a big man,” another said. “So, we love you and we want you to get better and we’re pulling for you!”
As of Friday, the GoFundMe campaign created to help Lyles had raised about $55,700.
“Robert continues to fight and maintain his positive attitude towards reaching his goal of a new heart. He continues working hard in therapy. Captain Video still carries that ‘House of Pain’ attitude in his therapy sessions,” Carodine wrote on GoFundMe last Sunday. “Sure, he gets depressed at times from being in the hospital so long, not being able to visit with friends and loved ones or not being able to physically perform as he is used to. It doesn’t last long.
“His competitive mindset always shines through. As well, he can see the condition of those around him, as he once was a few weeks ago, while taking longer walks through the hospital hallway,” Carodine continued. “We ask you to pray along with us that next month Robert will receive an artificial heart that will enable him to go home and rehab while waiting on a transplant. I can’t thank you enough on behalf of Robert. He appreciates all that you have done.”