Alabama’s Brandon Miller has armed security because of threats

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama star Brandon Miller was accompanied by an armed security guard to the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday because of threats made against him, Crimson Tide coach Nate Oats said.

“If you saw some of what I’ve seen sent to him, I think you’d understand why that is,” Oats said of the extra protection the school put up for Miller. “I don’t want to go into all that. The whole situation, as you know, is just a heartbreaking situation on all counts.”

Miller’s name came up last month in court testimony involving the capital murder case of former Alabama player Darius Miles and another man charged in the Jan. 15 fatal shooting of 23-year-old Jamea Harris.

A police officer testified that Miles texted Miller asking him to bring Miles’ gun in the early morning hours after the shooting. First-year starter Jaden Bradley was also on the scene. Neither Miller nor Bradley has been charged with any crime, and the university has described Miller as a cooperating witness, not a suspect.

The Crimson Tide (29-5) is a No. 1 seed in the tournament for the first time in school history. They play their opening game in the South Regional on Thursday, against No. 16 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in Birmingham — less than an hour’s drive from the Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa.

The guard, carrying a gun, badge and Alabama polo shirt, accompanied Miller to the interview area and later saw him participate in a light workout.

The freshman, who was the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, declined to elaborate on the extra safety, suggesting it was nothing out of the ordinary.

“I always travel with safety to all the games,” Miller said. “That’s all I’ll say about it.”

But Oats admitted it was hardly business as usual.

“Some of the messages are from people who may be behind fake email addresses, but who knows if they’re real or not,” Oats said. “But if you’d seen what I’ve seen, you’d understand what’s going on right now.”

Oats added that he views all of his players as his own children: “I put myself in his parent’s shoes and our administration has seen the things that I’ve seen. It’s appropriate. But it’s not something a college kid should have to go through.”

After his name came up in the case, Miller received a harsh reception during a win in South Carolina, with the crowd chanting “lock him up” and “guilty”.

Miller has repeatedly declined to discuss details of the case and said only last week that he relied on the camaraderie of his teammates to deal with off-field issues.

“I just lean on my teammates,” he said. “They are like family to me away from home.”

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