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Why Did Darius Miles Go to Prison?

Darius Miles is a former American professional basketball player who was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2000 NBA draft. He went on to play for a few teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers, during his 9-year career. In 2022, over a decade after retiring from the NBA, Miles was arrested and charged in connection to the murder of a man in Memphis, Tennessee. The former basketball star’s shocking imprisonment made headlines across the sports world. In this article, we’ll look at the details surrounding why Miles ended up behind bars.

Background on Darius Miles

Miles was born in October 1981 and grew up in Belleville, Illinois. The 6’9″ forward quickly rose up the high school ranks as a standout athlete, getting named to USA Today’s All-USA First Team. He decided to skip college and declared for the 2000 NBA draft after graduating high school.

The Los Angeles Clippers selected Miles with the 3rd overall pick in the draft. Early in his career, he was part of a core group of young talent on the Clippers alongside players like Lamar Odom and Corey Maggette. Miles played for the Clippers for 5 seasons, followed by stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers. His best season statistically came in 2004-05 when he averaged 14 points per game for Portland.

After 9 seasons in the league, Miles’ NBA career fizzled out largely due to persistent knee injuries. His life after basketball had some legal troubles and controversies, but nothing like the severe charges he faced in 2022 related to a homicide.

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The Murder of Terrence Harris

On January 17, 2022, a man named Terrence Harris was shot and killed outside a Memphis nightclub. Police investigation eventually led to three suspects being charged with first-degree murder – Darius Miles, his cousin Shannon Williams, and William Armstrong.

According to prosecutors, Miles had an argument with Harris outside the club. He then went to his car to get a gun, returned to shoot Harris, and fled the scene. Surveillance footage and cell phone records helped link Miles and the other two suspects to the shooting.

Harris was only 38 years old at the time he was gunned down. The senseless shooting ended his life and shattered his family. Meanwhile, police continued building a first-degree murder case against Miles and his co-defendants.

Arrest and Charges

On January 25, 2022, Darius Miles and Shannon Williams were arrested in California by a fugitive task force. They were detained in San Joaquin County and held for extradition back to Tennessee. Police also issued an arrest warrant for William Armstrong.

All three men were charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and unlawful possession of a weapon. Under Tennessee law, a first-degree murder conviction can carry severe penalties up to life in prison or even the death penalty.

News of Miles’ arrest and murder charges made national headlines, as many were surprised to see the former NBA player implicated in such a serious crime. He had never faced legal allegations nearly as harsh during or after his basketball career.

Trials and Convictions

Miles and Armstrong were tried together in front of a jury in July 2022. The prosecutors laid out evidence over several days tying the duo to Harris’ killing outside the Memphis nightclub. Their defense argued the shooting was in self defense.

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After deliberating for a day, the jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges for both Darius Miles and William Armstrong. In August 2022, a judge sentenced Miles to 25 years in prison for murder. Armstrong received a 23-year sentence.

Meanwhile, Shannon Williams took a plea deal in exchange for testifying against the other two defendants. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of facilitation of first-degree murder and received a 20-year sentence.

Motive and Aftermath

According to courtroom testimonies, the motive behind the deadly shooting was an argument over a small debt allegedly owed by the victim Terrence Harris. Prosecutors portrayed it as an incomprehensibly petty reason for gun violence resulting in Harris’ death.

Miles continued to claim he acted in self defense despite the jury’s guilty verdict for murder. His legal team said they planned to appeal the conviction and seek a new trial. For Harris’ grieving family, the justice system delivered guilty verdicts for those responsible for their loved one’s wrongful death.

The outcomes marked an incredible downfall for Darius Miles, who had earned nearly $62 million over his NBA career according to Basketball Reference. After avoiding major legal issues during and after his playing days, the 41-year-old faced spending most of the rest of his life in prison.

Reaction from the NBA Community

For those who knew Miles during his time in the NBA, the news of his imprisonment on murder charges came as a huge shock. Former coaches and teammates expressed dismay at how the talented athlete’s life took such a tragic turn.

“It’s crazy because he’s such a good guy…He’s always smiling, always happy,” said Quentin Richardson, who played with Miles on the Clippers. Other former teammates voiced similar disbelief over the situation.

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While saddened by Miles’ role in the deadly shooting, some also pointed to flaws in the system that they felt let the former player down after his basketball career ended. Doc Rivers, who coached Miles in Orlando, said “I wish he had more help” during the difficult transition out of the NBA.


Darius Miles’ journey from top NBA draft pick to convicted murderer sentenced to 25 years in prison was a disheartening fall from grace. The shooting death of Terrence Harris outside a Memphis nightclub in early 2022 and Miles’ subsequent arrest marked the start of his devastating downfall.

Implicated alongside two other men, Miles was found guilty of first-degree murder by a Tennessee jury in the summer of 2022. Despite his claims of self defense, prosecutors established Miles’ role in an argument that led to senseless gun violence and a wasted life.

The guilty verdict and lengthy prison sentence closed the book on a disappointing aftermath to what had been a promising basketball career. While trying to make sense of what went wrong, many who knew Miles during his NBA days pointed to a lack of support after retirement as a possible contributing factor. But regardless of the path that led there, his freedom is now gone for a long time.

Imran Khan

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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