LOS ANGELES (BVM) – Former NBA player Darius Miles – not to be mistaken with former Alabama basketball player Darius Miles who was indicted on charges surrounding a shooting – had a far less significant gun incident and spent almost a decade in the NBA.
Miles was a high school basketball prodigy who was out of the NBA at just 27 years old. So, what happened to Darius Miles and where is he now?
Darius Miles in high school
Miles, a 6-foot-9 small forward, graduated as a basketball prodigy from East St. Louis High School (IL) in the Class of 2000. Rather than signing to play for the St. John’s Red Storm men’s basketball team, Miles opted to get drafted into the NBA straight out of high school.
“[At] East St. Louis, we didn’t have a weight program when I was there,” Miles said in a radio interview posted on City Of Champions, Duncan TV’s YouTube page in December 2022. “I went straight from high school to the league. I didn’t get put on that type of workout until I got to the league, so I was behind on the strength, but I had the athletic ability. I was fast at 6-foot-9 and I could jump.”
Regardless of growing up in an under-resourced city, Miles also had to face the dangers of guns growing up. He detailed with The Players’ Tribune that he once had a loaded gun put to his head as a young kid. But the unfortunate circumstances he was put in didn’t stop him from putting up 20 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists on average as a junior. As a senior, he averaged 22.1 points, 12.1 rebounds, 7.4 blocks and 3.4 assists and managed to shoot 66.6% from the field – which led to him being named Mr. Basketball USA and a McDonald’s All-American.
Miles seemed like he was ready for the NBA, especially after he blocked Michael Jordan in a pickup game as a high school sophomore.
“I wasn’t looking to be the most famous [entering the NBA straight out of high school],” Miles said in a radio interview posted on City Of Champions, Duncan TV’s YouTube page in December 2022. “I knew I went straight out of high school but I wasn’t really rushing to get to the money. They told me I [could go] top five when I came out of high school… and I was happy to make history.”
Darius Miles in the NBA
Miles, at 18 years old, was picked No. 3 overall in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers – which was the highest that any high school player had ever been drafted.
But, Miles would go on to have a somewhat mediocre career by averaging 10.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in his 446-game NBA career (Los Angeles Clippers 2000-02; Cleveland Cavaliers 2002–04; Portland Trail Blazers 2004–08; Memphis Grizzlies 2008–09).
“I got drafted by the worst team and got traded to the worst team,” Miles said in a radio interview posted on City Of Champions, Duncan TV’s YouTube page in December 2022. “… I got traded to Portland, the next worst team. … It’s very hard to stay sane while losing. I never lost like that ever in my life until I got to the league.”
Although Miles never made an All-Star team, he should be considered far from an NBA bust. Some say that Miles would have been better off playing in college first, but the reality is that Miles’ knees were just not made for the game.
“People don’t really know I played 10 years, [but] I was hurt eight of the years,” Miles said in a radio interview posted on City Of Champions, Duncan TV’s YouTube page in December 2022. “My first two years I was fairly healthy. Then I got hurt at the end of my second year going into summer and then I did a movie (The Perfect Score). I just feel like I didn’t rehab to the best of my ability… and I was knick-knack hurt the rest of my career. When you’re dealing with knees, you feel good this day or bad that day.”
At 24 years old, Miles had a major microfracture surgery on his right knee which led to him playing his last game in the NBA in 2009 at 27 years old. He tried to have a comeback career in Charlotte in 2010, but it never amounted to anything.
“I wasn’t thinking about ‘what’s next?’,” Miles said in a radio interview posted on City Of Champions, Duncan TV’s YouTube page in December 2022. “I was thinking about losing the [sick family members] I love (and) I lost the thing I grew up loving, basketball.”
Where is Darius Miles now?
“If you read the headlines about me now, it’s all about me going bankrupt,” Miles wrote in The Players’ Tribune. “… The cliche is that guys go broke buying Ferraris or whatever. Listen, it takes a long time to go broke buying Ferraris. What makes you go broke are shady business deals. … In the end, when I was at my lowest point, I didn’t even want the money anymore. I didn’t care about anything. I couldn’t even leave the house. I was paranoid. I was depressed. I was gonna hurt somebody… Basketball got taken away from me at 27 and I was lost.”
Miles has been taking on several passion projects to aid his mental health. He enjoys speaking to young players and hosted a basketball clinic as recently as December 2022. Aside from his community work, the Florida resident is trying to build back his financial assets.
“I’ve been building a brand for my kids to have,” Miles said in a radio interview posted on City Of Champions, Duncan TV’s YouTube page in December 2022. “I have the podcast. I’m in the liquor industry (working on it). I have an app that just dropped on all platforms called ‘impressive events.’”
That podcast, called the Knuckleheads, is a project alongside former NBA teammate Quentin Richardson. They interviewed Kobe Bryant and continue to bring on top players in the league today. The podcast is also the main focus of Miles’ Instagram.
Notably, Miles has had his fair share of controversial headlines over the years.
In 2021, Miles was named as one of 18 former NBA players who were arrested and charged federally for defrauding the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan out of about $4 million. There have been few updates on the case since.
Back in 2011, Miles was arrested at the airport for bringing a loaded gun (with no ill intent) and ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
Back in the early 2000s, when the Cleveland Cavaliers wanted to draft LeBron James straight out of high school, Miles told reporters, “I don’t think you can really just bring a high school player in and really just think your team is going to really turn around like that. If he comes, he can just hop on that bandwagon and hope he can do something big.”
His words didn’t age well as LeBron recorded 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game as a rookie, while also that season, Miles recorded far less at 8.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assist rebounds on average.
So in 2021, Miles took the time to clarify his controversial take on LeBron.
“If anybody wanted him to come here (Cleveland), it’s me,” Miles said on the Real Ones podcast. “… When I see that clip, or if anybody just got it misconstrued, they got a trading card, an upper deck card with a quote from me saying that ‘LeBron James is going to be the next Magic Johnson.’ They never show that.”
Unfortunately, Miles is still known as the person who thought LeBron James wouldn’t make it, while he himself didn’t make it as big as originally expected. Maybe in the future, Miles can have LeBron on his podcast.