Nyheim Hines and his sister Nyah do everything together. They run together. They study together. They pray together. They compete together.
After all, they’re twins.
Nyheim was born first. Nyah was out two minutes later.
So when Nyheim revealed that both he and his twin sister would be going to N.C. State together – he to play football and she to run track – it came as no surprise to the nearly 100 people who waited in Garner High’s auditorium to hear his announcement.
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Together, they wore their N.C. State shirts and hats as they hugged. When they turned to the screaming crowd they held up the Wolfpack hand gesture.
They’ve supported each other throughout their high school careers. Nyah, a standout hurdler in track & field, is Nyheim’s biggest fan. And Nyheim, a 5-foot-9, 189-pound running back, is her’s.
Growing up was much of the same. It was impossible to separate them, their father, Darrin Hines said.
“She takes care of him,” he said. “She’s very mature in some areas where he may not be and she keeps him in line.”
Nyheim and Nyah’s parents were not together. They lived with their mother the first 14 years of their lives. And the last four years at their dad’s. But both parents had joint-custody.
Darrin Hines, who was also their track and football coach, recalls the last time the two twins raced each other. They were nine years old. After a track meet one day, they wanted to race each other.
He beat her the first time. When they got to the line, for the second race, Nyah took her shoes off.
“I said ‘Oh this is going to be good,’ ” Darrin Hines said.
They took off, racing side-by-side. When they reached 80 meters, Nyah turned to look at Nyheim and waved bye as she pulled away.
Track wasn’t the only sport played together.
“She could compete. She had to play with me,” Nyheim said about his twin. “We actually used to play football together and she used to be faster than me ... She learned some things from me and I learned some things from her. Our parents taught us from a really, really early age to look out for each other because you don’t know who else out in this world will.”
Their mother, Nannette Miller, said some of her fondest memories of them, were when the two did things together. That’s what she taught them.
“It’s important because as brother and sister they should have love and respect for one another, and be caring and know that this is my sibling and I’ve got to have their back,” she said.
When you ask the pair a question about a particular time in their lives, they first look at each other. Then they nod, as if knowing what the other is thinking.
They said they have twin-telepathy.
“We can look at each other and read each other’s minds,” Nyheim said. “That’s actually true, I promise.”
Nyah laughed and agreed.
“It’s like he’s more than a brother. He’s like a best friend, but more than a best friend,” she said. “I can always tell him anything. We’ve always had that type of bond.”
That bond fueled their decision to go to school together. For Nyheim, that school had to love his sister as much as they loved him or else he wouldn’t have gone. For Nyah, it was the same.
“I didn’t want to make the wrong decision,” she said. “And I wanted to go somewhere where they would take care of my brother and he would feel wanted and I would feel wanted.”
Nyah chose N.C. State first. It was her first offer. She said it felt like home. So Nyheim followed suit.
“They took care of her,” Nyheim said. “I take that highly. I take that very serious.”
Nyheim said there was a small chance he would have gone to Virginia Tech, but that chance diminished when he thought of his sister and all the things she has done for him over the years, the many memories they have shared.
The closest person
Before announcing where he wanted attend play football for the next three to four years, Nyheim went down a list of people he wanted to thank for helping him get to where he is.
As he made his way down the list – speaking in front of more than 100 classmates, friends and family members – he paused at the last name on the list.
“She’s the closest person, ever,” Nyheim told the crowd waiting for his decision. “I’m smiling just thinking about her. I’m closer to her than with my parents or anybody else. She helps me through the thick-and-thin even when I don’t want to tell her things some times.
“I just appreciate everything she’s done with hurdling sports, spiritually, church – she wakes up and tells me to go to church, signs my papers. She’s basically my (other) mom.”