Darius Miles may have dropped off the map, but he wants you to know he's doing just fine. Miles's rise from high school straight to the NBA in 2000 and then his sharp decline into bankruptcy in 2016 almost perfectly follows the tragic arc of young stardom, but boy does Miles have some stories to tell from his journey.
Miles wrote for the Players' Tribune in an effort to try and clear up a lot of misconceptions about where he went as well as his use of money, and it's a story that's riveting. He talks about growing up in a violent 89-block area of East St. Louis, making it to the NBA without going to college, spending money fast and loose, then feeling a hard crash when he blew his knee at 27 years old and after his mother died.
The story—hilariously guest edited by Miles's long time friend and fellow Clippers teammate Quentin Richardson—at times makes for a heartbreaking view into young stardom and the horrifying nature of never being able to escape growing up around poverty and violence. But perhaps what this sprawling 6,500-word opus will be best remembered for is its moments of sheer comedy.
We broke down some of the best anecdotes.
When you're a young player, it's always the moments with The Greats that'll stick with you. Miles talks a lot about how Michael Jordan played an influential role in his young career—Miles took Jordan on at his camp in Chicago and obviously got wrecked. He also talks about how MJ incredulously swooped in on And1's courtship of Miles and Richardson to fit them with Jordans instead.
And while that's pretty fun, one certain Laker's cameo takes the cake during Miles's Clippers days:
I remember one day I was running late for practice, so I was flying down the 405. All of a sudden, I look in the rearview, and I see the flashing lights. This unmarked police truck is right up on me. Tinted windows. Big heavy-duty truck. Woop-woop.
I turn to look out the window, and I can’t even see this dude’s face he’s so big. All I see is his chest.
“I SAID WHERE YOU G’WAN BOY?”
Then he bends down and looks in the window. Big, dumbass grin on his face. It’s Shaq.
Apparently, Shaq made him late for practice—pretty good gamesmanship if you ask me.
The other hilarious parts of Miles's Players' Tribune piece involve him being way too young to do adult things. Apparently, when he was 13, he was playing ball with 30-year-olds to give him some real competition. After his team won the championship, his team asked his mom if they could take him to the strip club. And apparently, when he eventually got to the NBA at the age of 18, he had to find an alternative to going out drinking:
The real story is this.… We were so young that we couldn’t really go to the clubs, so we used drive around L.A. going to high school basketball games. We always used to go to Westchester High games because they had the prettiest girls.
[Richardson's] Editor’s note: Yo! I was trying to go to the club. But D used to drag me to these games on his young-boy shit, and he would literally have these high school girls thinking they were about to go to prom with a Clipper.
I’m 18. I’m in my element, you know? I’ll mess around and go to prom. Why not?
It's just amazing to think that NBA players were out scouting for prom dates at the local high schools. Not to mention the fact that Miles and Richardson were also there to watch Trevor Ariza, Hassan Adams, and Bobby Brown, who all played for Westchester. According to Miles, he and Richardson's patented double fist tap to the head was a way of shouting out those players.
The other amazing story from Miles is the time that Alonzo Mourning lent him and Richardson some WaveRunners during the legendary Zo's Summer Groove. Miles was messing around when he ended up hitting a boat close to Mourning's place:
Then I was in the air.
Editor’s note: You were in The Matrix. Floating.
I hit the edge of that boat with the Jet Ski and I flipped ― I’m talking flipped that bitch. And now I’m upside down, flying through the air. And I can just see the newspapers flashing in my mind, like, NBA ROOKIE DIES IN DAMN JET SKI ACCIDENT IN SOUTH BEACH.
So I’m like, Nah, I did not survive 18 years of my life in East St. Louis to drown in Alonzo Mourning’s damn marina. We’re not going out like that.
So I do a little tuck-and-roll or whatever, and I hit the water. Ploosh. Go under. Now, you might not know this about me, but I can really swim. I’m like the black Michael Phelps. That’s no problem. But the thing about me is, I don’t do ocean water. Too murky, man. If I can’t see underneath me, I’m out.
So I pop my head up out the water, and I’m treading, but I’m feeling this seaweed touching my foot. This creepy-ass seaweed. I’m not having that. I’m yelling at Q, like, “Bruh! Come get me! Yo, come get me!”
Editor’s note: This man is like, “Q! HELP ME! This seaweed is touching me, bro! HELP ME!” So I come flying over there to rescue my boy on some Baywatch shit. We get him up out of the water and away from the seaweeds, and we ride out.
Now, imagine this …. two dudes from East Saint and the Wild Hunneds on a WaveRunner in the summer of 2000, going back to Zo’s crib to tell him we crashed his damn Jet Ski into his neighbor’s damn speed boat.
I dare you to find me a better jet ski story than that. At least one that's better told. Ah, to be a wallflower for Darius Miles's youth.
While Miles's NBA career may be long gone, his storytelling career should just be taking off. Because that man can sure spin a yarn. But one thing's for sure: If he starts a circuit, he should definitely make sure to bring Quentin Richardson along with him.