Darius LaVar Miles was born on October 9, 1981 in Belleville, Illinois. Belleville was a very poor community. Basketball became a way of escape from the poverty and conditions around him. He found himself playing against the bigger and tougher kids on the playgrounds and this helped to develop his game and make him tougher.
Miles attended East St. Louis High School in East St. Louis, Illinois where he amassed 1531 points, 1015 rebounds, 648 blocks, 209 assists, and 131 steals in his 3 year varsity career. In his senior year, he averaged 22.1 points, 12.4 rebounds, 7.2 blocks, 3.4 assists, and 2.4 steals. He was named to the Parade All America High School first team and USA Today All USA baskeball team. He scored 17 points on 8-14 shooting to push the West to a 146-120 victory in the 2000 McDonald's All American game. Darius was also named Illinois Class AA Mr.Basketball.
As Miles began to dominate the competition in high school, he attracted a lot of scouts. As his high school career drew to a close, he had several colleges making offers. He decided on St. Johns, but was not academically eligible and had to make a decision to try to find a college with lower academic requirements or make the jump to the NBA. He decided on the latter and entered the 2000 NBA draft.
The Clippers chose Miles with the 3rd pick in the draft and at the time he was the highest high school player ever drafted into the NBA and he was the first high school player ever drafted by the Clippers. For the next two NBA seasons, Miles formed, along with Lamar Odom, Quentin Richardson, and Elton Brand, the core of a young Clippers team that became known for their exciting, high-flying style of play. Prior to the 2002-03 season, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In his first season with the Cavs, they finished with a disastrous 17-65 record and Miles' own futility became the target of much media criticism. But, their record wasn't all bad because they won the NBA Draft Lottery and were able to select another high school phenom named LeBron James. With LeBron in the fold, they felt they no longer needed Miles and midway through the 2003-04 season the Cavs traded Miles to Portland. Once again, Miles reputation took a hit as many speculated that he couldn't get along with LeBron and that is why he was traded. But, according to Miles, this couldn't be farther from the truth. He got along fine with LeBron and in fact, they were friends before they were teammates. He was also labeled as a difficult player after he was fined by the Cavaliers for oversleeping and skipping a practice shortly before he was traded.
In Portland, Miles began to flash some of the talent that he had started to show with the Clippers before being traded and the Blazers signed him to a six-year, $48 million contract extension after the season. Then things started to do downhill for Miles again. During the 2004-05 season, Miles made headlines after a confrontation with then-coach Maurice Cheeks in which he repeatedly insulted hi m and remarked he didn't care if the team were to lose the next 20 games since Cheeks was going to be fired anyway. Though he was suspended two games for his outburst, his statements were prophetic: Cheeks was soon fired, and the team proceeded to lose nearly all of its remaining games. Later, Miles would say that Maurice Cheeks was the best coach he had because he was the first person who told him that he had way more potential than he was giving. But, Miles' reputation took another hit and he was rumored to be uncoachable and a bad influence on the team.
Then, he missed the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons after having microfracture surgery on his knee. He attempted a comeback in 2007 but tendinitis in the knee derailed his attempt and in March of 2008, the Blazers petitioned the league for relief from the remainder of Miles' salary and his injury was declared career ending and the Blazers got their cap relief. This is a sore spot for many Celtics' fans because after the death of Reggie Lewis, the Celtics petitioned for cap relief and were refused. But, Miles continued to rehab and according to reports, is anywhere from 85% -95% healthy now. If he is able to play in at least 10 games this season, the Trailblazers will be back on the hook for the rest of Miles' $18 million in salary. This in itself is a reason for Celtics fans to hope that Miles will succeed.
But there are many other reasons as well. Miles could be an opposing coach's match up nightmare. At 6' 9", has the height of a frontcourt player, but the nimbleness and the ball handling ability of a guard. He has long arms and great leaping skills and runs the floor very well. He is a slasher who can provide some exciting finishes at the basket. He seems to have answered the criticism that he is lazy and unmotivated. He could have sat back and collected $18 million from the insurance companies but instead, he has worked non-stop to get back into playing shape and to get an opportunity to play again. If he was not motivated and lazy it would have been too easy to sit back and take the payday. In April, he moved to Phoenix for three months of twice-daily workouts with former Suns trainer Robin Pound, who scheduled the first workout at 7 a.m. to test Miles' commitment. He needed to lose weight and this may have led to the 10 day suspension that will start this season as he tested positive for a diet drug.
As for his reputation, Miles had this to say:
"When I was with the Clippers, we were always family-oriented,'' said Miles, who was a 19-year-old phenom when he joined the Clippers. "My mom would cook and almost the whole team would come over. I used to throw fight parties or Super Bowl parties and invite the players. Some would come, some didn't.''
While Miles disagrees that he has set a bad example, he admits that he needs to play on a veteran team for the first time.
"Coming back into this league, I've got to be on a team where I look up to the players,'' he said. "I've been on the good side, where everything is good for you -- fans, shoe commercials, movie deals, my jersey in the top five. Then I'm on that side where I'm just labeled this criminal, this thug, this bad guy -- 'He can't be coached.' I've been on both sides and it's funny, I don't know how I went from that side to this side. I don't have a [criminal] record. I don't do anything out of the ordinary. I never had problems with my teammates. It's crazy how you get labeled.''
We know that Miles has the jump from high school to the NBA in common with KG, but, he also has something in common with Ray Allen. He has a budding movie career in his resume. He played Desmond Rhodes in the movie The Perfect Score about seniors who decide to steal the answers to the SAT test. He also was in National Lampoon's Van Wilder where he played Darius. And, he played himself in Youngest Guns, Arli$$, Playing it Safe, One on One, and He Got Game...Again.
Miles reports that there is no swelling or pain in the knee and reports have been very positive on his comeback so far. He has a 7 month old son and wants his son to see him play basketball. Perhaps at one time basketball came too easy for him and he may have taken his talent for granted, but that doesn't seem to be the case now as he works hard to recover his gifts and resume his career. Miles could be the piece that puts the Celtics over the top to repeat.