basketball Edit

Aaron Miles loving life with basketball and family

Aaron Miles is a player development coach for the Golden State Warriors
Aaron Miles is a player development coach for the Golden State Warriors (2 ways & 10 days)

For Portland to Lawrence and every stop in-between, basketball continues to play a huge role in the life of Aaron Miles.

Growing up, basketball wasn’t just something Aaron Miles did, but was a way of life. From Portland, Ore., to Lawrence, Kan., and every stop in-between, including an extended period of time playing overseas, basketball has always been a love and passion for Miles.

Miles, on August 10, 2017, was named the head coach of the Santa Cruz Warriors, the NBA G-League developmental team of the Golden State Warriors. After just two seasons, Miles was promoted to staff with the Golden State Warriors as a player development coach.

“It was going good before everything got shutdown,” Aaron Miles told during a recent phone interview. "It was a learning experience for myself and growing. I mean, we weren’t winning, so it was a chance for all of the members of the coaching staff to learn. My job as player development coach is good.

“My job, essentially, is I’m an assistant coach,” he added. “However, my focus is more on the player development side. There are five player development guys, and we’ve each got two or three guys that we deal directly with during the season. We work them out, show them film, talk to them about life and see how things are going with them.

“Obviously, if I see anything that can help the team, I can make suggestions to Steve (Kerr) and the game planning staff,” he continued. “Leaving the Santa Cruz Warriors head coaching job was a more difficult decision than people think. You go from being a head coach and making decisions to an assistant coach and making suggestions.”

The opportunity to make the jump to the big leagues was an opportunity Miles simply couldn’t afford to pass up. He went from being the head coach of a G League team to being surrounded by the likes of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and other NBA stars.

“It was a promotion, so in that sense, it’s a promotion, because you’re going from the G League to the NBA,” said Miles. “For most people, the goal and objective is to get to the NBA. For me, the people that I work with is huge. I work with a great organization and a great staff.

“Steve (Kerr) is the best,” he added. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Coach (Bill) Self and Coach (Joe) Dooley and then running my own ship in Santa Cruz. Now being up here, they’ve all got some of the same values, especially when it comes to family.”

Before making his mark in the professional ranks as a coach, Miles found a great amount of success on the hardwood during his high school, college, and professional career. After an unbelievable prep career at Jefferson High School in Portland, Ore., Miles ultimately made the decision to attend the University of Kansas.

Miles, during his four-year career, appeared in two Final Fours, one National Championship game, and one Elite Eight. Throughout his professional career, he played for Golden State, Fort Worth, Elan Bearnais Pau-Orthez, Cajasol Sevilla, Panionios, Aris, Reno Bighorns, Krasnye Krylya, and Lokomotiv Kuban.

Following his playing career, Miles spent a year (2015-16) as an assistant coach at Kansas and one year (2016-17) as an assistant coach at Florida Gulf Coast.

“Before I started coaching, I was all throughout Europe, for the most part,” said Miles. “My rookie year, obviously, I played for Golden State for half a season. The vast majority of my career I was overseas. I did a stint in the G League, which actually setup the whole Santa Cruz Warriors job to where I am now.

“Basketball has taken me to a lot of different places,” he added. “Obviously, my goal was to play in the NBA and have an NBA career, which didn’t happen, but I still had a successful career overseas. I was able to travel the world and be exposed to a lot of different things.”

Miles led KU to two Final Fours and an appearance in the National Championship game
Miles led KU to two Final Fours and an appearance in the National Championship game

During his playing career overseas, Miles had a number of career highlights and won numerous awards. In all, he was the Russian Cup MVP in 2013, two-time Russian Cup winner (2012, 2013), EuroChallenge Champion (2013), French Cup winner (2007) and participated in the HEBA Green All-star game in 2009.

Obviously, there was a period of adjustment early on in his career.

“Was the culture shocking to me? Yes, absolutely,” he said. “I remember my first country was France and I go over there at the age of 23 or 24 and I don’t know anything about nothing. The day before I left, I was talking to my agent and he told me to get a computer. I got a laptop, because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have a way to communicate with anybody.

“I was thinking that I had my cell phone, so I’ll be able to make calls, but my cell phone didn’t work,” he continued. “I didn’t know that stuff at that age and at that time. The batteries to charge my computer, I actually needed a converter and adapters. All of these different things I didn’t know about when I first got to France.

“The first time I went to the grocery store, I was looking for peanut butter and jelly,” he continued. “Well, they didn’t have peanut butter. Remember, that’s an American thing. I needed to find chicken, beef, and other food. After about an hour, I had eight items in my basket and I was frustrated, so I just left.”

Not surprisingly, there were some frustrating times early on for Miles during his professional career.

“There was no Google or iPhone back then, so I remember buying a dictionary so I could speak to the people at the grocery store and understand what was being said to me,” he said. “I’m looking for chicken or beef or pork chops and they don’t understand what I’m saying, so you’ve got to start speaking like an animal (pig noises and such).

“Early on, it’s like you’re living on a completely different planet,” he added. “It was really frustrating at first.”

Before his professional and coaching career got started, Miles, from 2001-04, was the starting point guard for the Kansas Jayhawks. After being named the Oregon 4A High School basketball player of the year as well as McDonald's Morgan Wooten National Player of the Year, Miles committed to Roy Williams during a press conference inside Jefferson High School.

Miles helped lead the Jayhawks to two consecutive Final Four appearances in 2002 and 2003 and an appearance in the 2003 national championship game. He is the all-time assists leader (with 954 career assists) of both Kansas and the Big 12 Conference. He was named to the All-Big 12 Team in both 2004 and 2005.

He was also named to the All-Big 12 Defensive Team three times and he finished his college career, in eighth place in NCAA history in assists and in second place all-time in Kansas history in steals.

For his career, Miles averaged 10.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. In starting 137-of-138 games, Miles shot 41.5 percent from the field, 34.2 percent from behind the arc, and 75.5 percent from the free-throw line.

“If Keith (Langford) didn’t foul out against Syracuse, we win a championship,” he said. “If Keith doesn’t foul out against Georgia Tech, we’re at least in the Final Four again. If Keith is healthy his senior year, that’s a different story, also. Keith is such a bad boy.

“Keith is probably the most underrated player and underappreciated player,” he added. “Not only at Kansas, but I think we appreciate him some, but not as much. He could have easily been a Sixth Man of the Year type of player in the NBA.

“The year that Coach Self arrived, Keith was thinking about going to the NBA,” he continued. “I love Coach Williams and everything, but at that moment, I had this attitude of forget him. If he (Coach Williams) doesn’t want to be here, forget about him. “I love Coach Williams and I want that to be made very clear, but at that moment, at 20 years old, that’s how I felt. I always felt like Keith was more hurt when Coach Williams left.”

When the squad intact and Self in place, Miles had a message for his new head coach.

Miles has a deep passion for family and basketball
Miles has a deep passion for family and basketball (Golden State of Mind)

“I told Coach Self when he came here, we’re used to Final Fours and championship games around here,” he said. “When we got to the Elite Eight and didn’t make it to the Final Four, I was crushed. If you look at our senior year, we were 21-1, or something like that, and No. 1 in the country. The loss to Texas Tech is the one we never recovered from. That’s how I feel about it.

“There were some things that took place during that game,” he added. “I got a rebound and was punched in the eye, and they called a travel on me. There are other plays in the game that we could have made, but they hit a three and we lose that game.

“We just never recovered from it,” he continued. “There were some things that took place afterwards and we never bounced back. Keith got hurt and we tried to bring it back together, but it just never happened. That was just sickening to me. Then, you’ve got the two teams connected to the coaching carousel, North Carolina and Illinois, playing in the championship game that year.”

At the time, it wasn’t the outcome that Miles was hoping for. In fact, it was a devastating ending considering how everything went down.

“That just really messed me up, and then Coach Williams wins it,” he said. “He’s the last person that I wanted to win a championship at that stage. Had he won it when I was out of college, I would have been happy for him.”

Today, Miles, who was sold on signing with Kansas after his best friend and high school teammate, Mike Lee, committed during his senior year, is enjoying life now more than ever.

Surrounded by his wife, Mikki, and four sons, Aaron, Jr. (Deuce), Adonis, Asaiah, and Avion, basketball is still a big part of his life. However, for Miles, it’s his wife and kids that drive him to be the man that he is today, not the game he developed a love and passion for long ago.

Recently, Miles took to and started a series called “MilesMondays”, which features his entire family. It’s clear that Miles has mastered the art of being a husband and father.

Today, it’s the joy, love, happiness and life lessons that he provides to his family, not the number of points scored or victories attained, that drive Miles to be the best husband and father.

For all episodes of MilesMondays, click here