Parents of shooting victim call Brandon Miller's continued play for Alabama 'unimaginable'

Alabama basketball head coach Nate Oats “crossed the line Tuesday,’’ Jamea Harris' stepfather said.

Alabama Crimson Tide forward Brandon Miller took the court Wednesday for a road matchup with South Carolina — a game many felt he shouldn't have been allowed to play. DeCarla Cotton and her husband Delvin Heard, the parents of 23-year-old mother Jamea Harris, were part of that group.

Harris was killed by Michael Davis on Jan. 15 with a gun that Miller allegedly delivered to Darius Miles. Davis is not affiliated with Alabama, while Miles was a junior on the Alabama basketball team.

One day after the reported news of Miller's alleged role in delivering the firearm, Miller scored a career-high 41 points and the game-winning shot in Alabama’s overtime victory.

“It’s just unimaginable, and it’s like his life is just going on,’’ Cotton told USA Today Sports on Thursday. “He took a brief pause and it didn’t stop. It’s like, OK, slap on the wrist and go play ball."

Miller is Alabama's leading scorer, a National Player of the Year candidate and a potential NBA lottery pick for the second-ranked Crimson Tide.

“They’re worried about his career, but what about this 5-year-old boy (Harris’ son, Kaine). He’s the true victim in all this. He won’t have a mother anymore to influence his growing up and who he’s going to be.’’

Miles was quickly dismissed from Alabama, and he faces capital murder charges along with Davis.

In Miller's case,"there’s nothing we could charge him with," said Tuscaloosa chief assistant district attorney Paula Whitley on Tuesday. This is reportedly due to the lack of evidence that he knew what the gun would be used for when he allegedly delivered it to a Tuscaloosa nightclub on the night of the shooting.

Feb 22, 2023; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide forward Brandon Miller (24) dribbles the ball against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second half at Colonial Life Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama Crimson Tide forward Brandon Miller allegedly delivered a gun that was subsequently used in a murder and never missed a game. (Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports)

According to a police testimony, Miller received a text from Miles that night requesting that Miller drive over to The Strip, a collection of bars and restaurants, and bring Miles’ gun with him.

Miller’s Tuscaloosa attorney Jim Standridge argued in a statement released Wednesday that when Miller gave Miles a ride to a Tuscaloosa nightclub on the night of the shooting, Miles brought his handgun and left it hidden under some clothing in the backseat of Miller’s car. Miller “never saw the handgun, nor handled it,” according to Standridge.

Cotton told USA Today Sports that Miller should have known that the gun could lead to violence. “When somebody says bring a gun to them, what do you think they’re going to do with it?’’ she said. “And if there was no gun, she would not be dead.’’

Alabama coach Nate Oats' 'godawful’ comments

Harris’ stepfather, Delvin Heard, added that Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats has been “godawful’’ in navigating this tragedy.

Oats “crossed the line Tuesday,’’ when he referred to Miller as “at the wrong spot at the wrong time,’’ Heard said. Oats later released a follow-up statement and apologized.

"I'm not here to make excuses, but I want to make it clear I didn't have the details from the hearing that morning since I was coming straight from practice," Oats said. "I used a poor choice of words, making it appear I wasn't taking this tragic situation seriously, which we have throughout the course of it. I sincerely apologize for that."

From Heard's and Cotton's perspective, Oats' statement didn't change anything. “The retraction meant nothing to us because over this five-week period, he has made a habit of making reckless statements," Heard said. "When I say reckless, I mean statements not considering the victim in this whole thing, which is Jamea Harris.’’