In the early 2000s, the Clippers defined cool for a certain generation. Darius Miles, Quentin Richardson, Lamar Odom and Corey Maggette were young and fresh. The team wasn’t good, but it was fun – aggressive dunks followed by double taps of fists to the head, a celebration quickly emulated around the country.
But Miles, the youngest player on a team defined by its in-your-face youth, fell out of the NBA by age 27 (and that was after missing two full seasons due to injury).
“What the Hell Happened to Darius Miles?” by Darius Miles delivers on the promise that headline-author combination. His article in The Players’ Tribune, guest-edited by Richardson, covers the highest highs:
Anyway, they messed around and gave us millions of dollars and put us in Los Angeles, of all places. Only Donald Sterling could’ve been wild enough to sign off on that. Right after the draft, I’m on a private plane to L.A. with Q, and we’re just lookin’ at one another like, Bruh. Bruh. We on a PJ.
They messed around and gave us millions of dollars and put us in Los Angeles, of all places.
I mean, I’m from East St Louis.
Q is from the Wild Hunneds.
My momma drove a school bus.
Q’s daddy drove the L Train.
Now we’re sitting on the PJ, bro? We made it.
So we land and it’s like straight outta the movies ― dude is standing next to the black town car holding up a sign with our names on it.
Editor’s note: Like he’s about pass the Grey Poupon.
It was surreal. I’m coming straight outta high school to this. At least Q had a year of college, you know?
So they take us to the hotel and it’s not just a fancy hotel ― it’s the L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills. Where Ja Rule had just shot the “Livin’ It Up” video with the slip n’ slides and all that. We get to the room, and all the lights are cutting on before we even hit the switch. Automatic. Nowadays, that’s standard. It’s whatever. But this was 2000. This was not normal. I’m looking at Q like, Bro, this is crazy.
And the lowest of lows, including the death of his mother after he retired:
When she died, I ain’t gonna lie, it broke me.
After the funeral, I was supposed to clean out her house, and I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t leave her house for an entire year. I never made it past the front yard, for real. I just didn’t have the will to do anything. I went Zero Dark Thirty on everybody. I wasn’t answering anybody’s texts. I wasn’t even answering Qs texts. And it wasn’t like people weren’t trying to help me, but I didn’t want the help. I was just … gone.
I would sleep in the daytime then stay up all night drinking wine and smoking weed, just to try to get out of my head. I was paranoid. I had my concealed carry permit, so I had a gun on me at all times. The worst part was that I had people who owed me a lot of money, and I just got to a point where I was seeing red, for real. I felt like I was gonna hurt somebody, or I was gonna wind up in jail.
I know dudes like me aren’t supposed to talk about depression, but I’ll talk about it. If a realmotherfucker like me can struggle with it, then anybody can struggle with it.
I was stuck in my momma’s house in East St. Louis for like three years. I worked my whole life to get out of there, and I was back. Just … trapped. Carrying my gun with me everywhere. Couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t escape my own head. Couldn’t find any peace.
Miles says he’s doing better now, which is welcome news. He also explains the origin of that famous celebration, getting it from high schooler Trevor Ariza.
I highly suggest reading it in full.