It didn’t matter to Lydon Burson that former NBA star Darius Miles of East St. Louis had fallen into bankruptcy. For Burson, Miles is still the local kid who made it big — and Burson will have a slice of that fame in the form of a shoe signed by Miles.
That shoe and dozens of other sports memorabilia items, including a signed LeBron James jersey that went for $1,500, were auctioned off Wednesday night at the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds. The shoe was also signed by other players in an early-2000s McDonald’s All American Game.
Miles was just a senior in high school at that time. He grew up in East St. Louis, the only child of a mother whom he would later shower with gifts after he gained fame as a rising basketball star. He was a first-round draft pick with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2000, a contract worth $9 million.
Today, Miles is 35, and bankrupt. Even after starring in two movies and signing athletic deal brands, the 6-foot-9 player ran into injuries and bad investments. He listed a $20,000 in child-support debt and $100,000 in losses from a real-estate deal in his bankruptcy. The sale was part of a liquidation of Miles’ belongings to repay his debts. Jerseys signed by Larry Bird, Latrell Sprewell and Michael Vick went for hundreds of dollars each.
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“It’s sad,” said Bill Jones, of East St. Louis. “It’s unfortunate to see all his stuff taken down here. It happens to a lot of them, once they get caught up in the limelight.”
Some bidders were skeptical about the authenticity of the jerseys because they didn’t come with certificates of authenticity, but they were mostly curious to see what the items went for. There wasn’t much left in the end, with even a Chicago Bulls soda dispenser going for $275 and a baseball bat signed by famed former St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire that went for $450.
At least a handful of bidders were there for Miles himself. Andre Johnson of Belleville said he watched Miles as he wsa coming up as a player for the East St. Louis Flyers. As for Burson, who bought the signed shoe, Miles is still the young basketball star he watched growing up.
“He’s just a local kid,” Johnson said.
Reporter Beth Hundsdorfer contributed to this article.