Alabama men’s basketball coach Nate Oats revealed that he turned to NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis for advice about his former player, Darius Miles, who is charged with the murder in the shooting death of a 23-year-old woman — noting that the two men’s experiences are “similar.”
Speaking to Crimson Tide Sports Network on Tuesday, Oats said he got the phone number for Lewis, who was convicted for his role in the stabbing deaths of two men outside of an Atlanta nightclub after the Super Bowl in January 2000.
“I just thought he’s been through, you know, a tragic situation and one of the more mentally tough athletes in my time,” Oats said when asked who he leaned on in the wake of Miles’ arrest Sunday in the killing of Jamea Harris.
“He went through a similar situation in Atlanta. He played in the NFL. He told me what he thought guys needed to hear,” he continued.
Miles, 21, was busted along with 20-year-old Michael Lynn Davis for allegedly opening fire at a car around 1:45 a.m. Sunday in an area near campus called “The Strip.” One of the car’s passengers, 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris, was hit by a bullet and died.
Oats added to Lewis’ advice: “He just kind of told me to share the word with them and pray with them. That’s what they need right now.”
Oats noted that Lewis had a personal connection to the university since his daughter, Diaymon Lewis, was a recent graduate.
“His daughter went to school here a year-and-a-half ago, so she’s pretty shook up by the whole situation, too,” he said.
Lewis, an NFL linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens from 1996 to 2012, was one of three men charged with murder after two men were stabbed to death outside of an Atlanta nightclub after Super Bowl XXXIV in January of 2000.
The murder charge against Lewis was dropped months later when he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of obstruction of justice. He received a year of probation, and his two friends were later acquitted of their murder charges.
Oats revealed that others have also reached out to him in the wake of the fatal shooting, including Arizona State men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley.
“Just different people have reached out and I’ve been able to gather different things from different people,” he said. “I wouldn’t say there’s one guy, necessarily. This wasn’t covered in the ‘Coaching Basketball’ class back in college.”
“We talked as a team. Obviously very emotional,” Oats said. “We had Scotty Hollins, our team chaplain in there. Greg Byrne, the AD, the staff. Kind of talked through some stuff. I told the team, I would just give them some time on their own. We had just pushed the team meeting back, back, back until we had some type of answers.”
He added that they decided to cancel practice on Sunday because several members of the team hadn’t slept after hearing the disturbing allegations against one of their now-former teammates.
Miles, who is from Washington DC, is a junior at the University of Alabama and was the basketball team’s forward. He had been benched during Saturday’s game against Louisiana State University due to an ankle injury.
The University of Alabama kicked Miles off the team following the news of the charges against him.
In a statement, the university said: “We were made aware of the recent charge against student-athlete Darius Miles; he has been removed from campus and is no longer a member of the Alabama men’s basketball team.”