What the Hell Happened to Darius Miles?

By Darius Miles


Darius Miles is a retired NBA player who was selected right out of his East St. Louis high school to play for the Los Angeles Clippers. This first person narrative of his rise and fall from the NBA is honest, vulnerable and hopeful. Miles tells the tale of going from the violence and hopelessness of East Saint Louis, to private jets and more money than he could imagine. He shares the highs, lows and lessons learned. Contains profanity.

Genre - non-fiction
Text Structure - personal narrative
Themes - inner city life, survival, NBA experience, family, friendship, loss, hopes/dreams, overcoming adversity, growing up

Rings of culture Represented

Ethnicity - black
Age - teen
Gender - boy/man
Socio-Economic - poor/working class/wealthy
National -

Why It’s Culturally Authentic

  • Darius Miles shares his story in his own voice, like all of the Players Tribune pieces, the first person narratives are authentic and engaging

  • validates/affirms the voice and perspective of young black men living in urban, often violent American cities

  • builds and bridges the experiences of urban youth, to those of different socio-economic experiences

  • is told with the enthusiasm, excitement and innocence of a youth

  • authentic language

  • many elements of the iceberg of culture are revealed in the piece including but not limited to, conversational patterns, patterns of handling emotions, social interaction rate, nature of friendships, attitudes towards elders, problem solving roles, and concept of ‘self’

Ideas for CLR

Set it Off (Into the Text)

Pre-Reading Teaparty - to access prior knowledge, preview the text and begin thoughtful discussion about the texts content, themes and important ideas. For directions, click here.

Possible Teaparty Sentences

  • When you’re in the NBA, people think you’re a superhero. Maybe you think you’re a superhero, too.

  • I ain’t a doctor, but when you grow up running from gunshots all the time, I think there’s something inside you that never leaves.

  • I don’t care how hard you are … your momma is your momma.

  • So, What the hell happened to Darius Miles? Man, a lot. A lot happened to Darius Miles.

  • Picture this. I’m 18 years old. I just got drafted by the Clippers.

  • Anyway, they messed around and gave us millions of dollars and put us in Los Angeles, of all places.

  • When you pop out the womb in East St. Louis, it’s guns, drugs and danger, from start to finish.

  • I was in sixth grade when those roll-away basketball hoops just started coming out. Before that, you had to nail a backboard to a light pole or whatever.

  • There was one moment that kind of changed my life, though. It was the day I met MJ.

  • Now, I’ll be honest with you. I wasn’t a shooter. I couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean. But I could dunk on anybody

The Get Down (Through the Text)

Jump In Reading (pg. 193 blue binder) - naturally simulates the flow of conversation that occurs in some languages. Low affective filter; highly engaging and students centered.

  1. Select a student to begin reading aloud. They should read at least one sentence, no more than a paragraph.

  2. Instruct other students that they may “Jump-In” when there is a pause at the end of a sentence.

  3. If two or more students jump in at the same time, one student defers to the other.

Picture the Feeling (pg. 200 blue binder ) - validates students personal reactions to a text, and supports students developing mental images based on the text.

  1. During and/or after reading, have students highlight words, phrases and sentences they find particularly meaningful or significant.

  2. Using a double entry journal, have students record 7-10 of their highlighted sections on the left. On the right, they should illustrate their mental pictures.

Silent Appointment (pg. 64 blue binder) - allows students to share/review information while being socio-centric

  1. Have students use non-verbal cues such as eye-contact, nodding, hand signals to make an appointment with another student in a different part of the room than them.

  2. Students move to their appointments and share their assignments.

  3. Use Pick a Stick, or Somebody Who to have a few students share out what they discussed.

The After Party (Beyond the Text)

Graffiti Talk (pg. 58 blue binder) - engages students through movement and spontaneity in reviewing content/information.

1.     Post several questions around the room on chart paper, leave several markers/pens near each chart paper.

2.     Give students an attention signal such as “Time to” - “Move”, and they get up voluntarily and move to the chart paper of their choice to respond to the questions. Students may move and respond to as many questions as they choose.

3.     They should move and respond quietly without talking.

4.     After approximately, 7-10 minutes, and/or when all questions have several responses, assign each student to a chart paper to discuss and synthesize the information.

5.     Move around to each group, having students share out most important ideas, patterns etc from discussions.

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Possible Graffiti Talk Questions

What personal connections did you make with the text?

What are the most important lessons that Darius Miles shares?

How did this text help you to understand perspectives/experiences that are different from your own?

After reading this article what thoughts do you have about high school students going directly to the NBA?

What themes/ideas did you find most applicable to your own life as a young adult?

For more information on strategies used above and the blue binder above go to  www.culturallyresponsive.org

For more information on strategies used above and the blue binder above go to www.culturallyresponsive.org