A college basketball coach whose player was charged with murder sought the advice of an NFL Hall of Famer uniquely qualified to help: Onetime homicide suspect Ray Lewis.
Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats reached out to Lewis to ask the former Baltimore Ravens great how to deal with the case of Darius Miles before the team played a road game against Vanderbilt Tuesday. Miles, a 6-foot, 6-inch forward who has now been kicked off the team, was charged with capital murder in the Sunday shooting death of a 23-year-old woman near campus.
“He went through a similar situation in Atlanta,” Oats told the Alabama Crimson Tide Sports Network pregame show before the Tides’ 78-66 victory. “He played in the NFL. He told me what he thought guys needed to hear.”
Lewis and two other men were indicted on murder and aggravated assault charges in 2000 for their alleged roles in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollard in an Atlanta nightclub following the Super Bowl. The charge against Lewis was later dropped when he agreed to testify against the other two defendants in exchange for a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing justice. The other defendants were later acquitted.
Although Lewis, now 47, went on to enjoy an illustrious career, including a Super Bowl victory the next season, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018, nagging questions remained unanswered from the murders. A white suit Lewis was wearing that night was never found and was allegedly blood-stained and dumped in a trash bin. Prosecutors said Baker’s blood was found in Lewis’s limousine, and Lewis admitted that he lied to police the next day, when he denied being at the scene.
Miles has been charged with providing a gun to pal Michael Lynn Davis, who allegedly used it to kill Jamea Jonea Harris at around 2 a.m. in Tuscaloosa, along a campus strip of bars and restaurants. Both suspects could face the death penalty.
Lewis played college football at the University of Miami, but his daughter, Diaymon Lewis, attended Alabama.
“I just thought he’s been through, you know, a tragic situation,” Oats said. “He is one of the more mentally tough athletes in my time. His daughter went to Alabama, so I was able to get his number. I talked to him. He didn’t talk to the team or anything. But he kind of talked to me. He’s a man of faith as well. Just kind of told me to share a little word with him, pray with him. That’s what they need right now. His daughter went to school here a year-and-a-half ago, so she’s pretty shook up by the whole situation, too.”