Recently, a name from the NBA past made its way to The Players’ Tribune. Darius Miles, once a high school-to-pro prodigy, fell off the map. He played two of his 11 years with the up and coming Los Angeles Clippers. Now, just two years since he filed bankruptcy after making millions during his career, Miles shares his story.
It’s good to see a former player come out and share about their life beyond the accomplishments. Darius Miles went through a lot that caused him to get to such a low point. He dealt with depression which stemmed to the two events of his mother’s death from cancer and the end of his NBA career due to injuries. He recounts that following her death that he stayed confined in her house for an entire year. So with his two loves taken from him, he had nothing left. He received so much overnight which got him out of the troubled neighborhood of St. Louis only to then return to his deceased mother’s house.
As I reflect on this news of his life and career, I consider how I would respond to such a series of events. I know that being an elite athlete brings tremendous pressure to perform. Also, so much money is tied up into owners who won’t blink at letting you go if you are a liability.
However, most players speak of their outlet in life to be the game play itself. So then it would seem that if the game was your retreat, then it is more so all the attention and maintaining a star-studded life that can cripple them. How can you blame these guys if they had come from a former life which was the complete opposite of it and the little to no preparation for the overnight rise to fame? Miles was no exception.
What I consider for many of these young athletes is the need to prepare for the inevitable of when their career will end. This means embracing a bigger perspective on life. A professional athlete’s career can be seen as just the launching point or the start up business that can set the stage for many other endevours in their life. It’s no surprise though that this is missed because basketball was their only passion and purpose that got them there. Remember it’s no secret that Michael Jordan hates being on the sideline of the game with his accomplished career behind him. It’s like he can only relieve those moments of competition when he responds to those who question his greatness.
Does Darius Miles rightfully exposes the secret pressures of athletes who might seem to have it all handed to them but fall off the face of the earth when the game is taken from them? From my perspective this is actually a recent addition to a line of NBA players who have come out and shared about struggling with depression like Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan.
Thank you Darius for your transparency.