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Nate Oats spoke to Ray Lewis about Darius Miles arrest: 'He went through a similar situation'

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Speaking publicly for the second time since Sunday’s arrest of Darius Miles for capital murder, Alabama men’s basketball coach Nate Oats revealed Tuesday that he spoke with former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis following the incident.

“His daughter left for Alabama a year and a half ago,” Oats said during an interview with the Crimson Tide Sports Network ahead of Tuesday night’s game at Vanderbilt. “He went through a similar situation in Atlanta. He played in the NFL. He told me what he thought guys needed to hear.

Oats confirmed in his post-match press conference that he initiated the conversation with Lewis.

“I just thought he had been through a tragic situation,” Oats said. “One of the mentally strongest athletes of my time. His daughter went to Alabama, so I got his number. I talked to him. He didn’t talk to the staff or anything. But he kind of spoke to me. He is also a man of faith. Just told me to share a little word with him, pray with him. That’s what they need right now. His daughter studied here a year and a half ago, so she’s also pretty shaken up by the whole situation.

Lewis is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens from 1996-2012. Lewis and two of his friends were charged with murder for stabbing two men outside an Atlanta nightclub after Super Bowl XXXIV in January 2000.

The murder charge against Lewis was dropped months later after he pleaded guilty to an obstruction of justice charge in exchange for his testimony against the other two men. Lewis received a year’s probation, and his two friends were later acquitted of the murder charges.

Lewis’ daughter, Diaymon Lewis, graduated from Alabama in 2020, according to her LinkedIn bio.

Miles, a now-fired Alabama basketball player, and another man, Michael Davis, were arrested Sunday and both were charged with capital murder in the early morning shooting death of 23-year-old Jamea Harris on Tuscaloosa’s Strip. Court records released on Tuesday said witnesses told police that Davis fired the shot that killed Harris and Miles admitted to police that he provided the gun.

Oats revealed his conversation with Lewis when he was asked during his pre-game interview which people he leaned on after Sunday’s arrest. He mentioned athletic director Greg Byrne and team sports psychologist Brett McCabe, as well as Arizona State men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley, whom Oats coached in Buffalo, and Lewis.

“Different people reached out and I was able to gather different things from different people,” he said. “I wouldn’t say there’s a guy, necessarily. This was not covered in the ‘Basketball Coaching’ class in college. This is one where you have to get a good feel for where your guys are. Even going into team meetings, you have to play a little bit by ear and see where they are, where their heads are and go from there.

“Lots of prayer. Read them some Bible verses about how to deal with this kind of thing. And really, we kind of reiterate, like, their choices. We can also learn from this. Don’t miss a learning lesson. Let’s learn what we can from this. I hope the rest of the team makes better decisions in the future and they can really learn from this.”

In his Crimson Tide Sports Network pre-game interview, Oats also spoke about the team’s response to hearing the news on Sunday.

“We talked as a team. Obviously very emotional,” said Oats. “We had Scotty Hollins, our team chaplain there. Greg Byrne, the AD, the team. We kind of talked about some stuff. I told the team I would give them some alone time. We had just postponed the staff meeting until we had some sort of response.

“After talking for a while, they came to me and said they weren’t in the right frame of mind to practice. [Sunday], which I totally understood. I kind of left it up to them what we were going to do that night. So we gave them the night off. They said they would be ready to go [Monday]. Many of them hadn’t slept.

“So it arrived on Monday. Went through the Vanderbilt people, day 1 issue. [deputy] boss [Severn ‘Sebo’] Sanders speaks with the Tuscaloosa PD team. Then we had practice. I thought the practice was good. I thought the guys were trapped. I thought it was a small relief, if you will, from thinking about all the things they were thinking. So we went straight from practice to catch a plane and come here. [to Vanderbilt].

“We filmed here last night. I thought it was good. Made some video after that. Just more – because normally we would have made some on Sunday. we had to make amends [some] time on it. And then he told them to go to bed.

“we got up [Tuesday] morning. Quite similar to a regular game day. We just made a little more video. We just got more videos than we normally would have, missing the Sunday deal. we did a little [Monday] night, a little longer than we would have [Tuesday]. We did it. I thought our shootout was good. I thought the guys pulled themselves together and said, ‘let’s really focus here’.

“So I hope they can focus, focus. It’s obviously a distraction. It would be a lie to say no. There will be many distractions in life. This is a big one. But you have to be able to regroup, pull yourself together and still go to work.

“You and I have been through some things. Obviously this is a little different perhaps. You know how real life works. You need to be able to compartmentalize a little bit, focus on what you can, so now tonight, I just hope that they can really focus on what we have to do tonight, because we’ve been playing some good basketball up to this point.”

Mike Rodak is an Alabama reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @mikerodak.