Aaron David Miles Jr. (AJ), Nez Perce tribal member, passed away Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, at the family home in Pullman. He was 23 years of age. He was with his mother, father, sisters, brother and nephew when he began his journey to the other side.
AJ was born at Gritman Medical Center in Moscow on April 25, 1996, to Aaron and Julie Miles. He was their third child and their first son, and also the first grandson to the Miles family. He was given the Nez Perce name Lepit Hiisemtuks, meaning Two-Moons, at the Chief Joseph Warriors and Memorial Powwow at a month old. The name was passed down through family and was his late great-grandfather’s Nez Perce name. His great-grandfather, David Miles Sr., received the name from the old Nez Perce War of 1877 veteran as an infant as well. The name held great significance to the family and Nez Perce Tribe, and was fitting for AJ.
AJ attended elementary and junior high in Moscow until his sophomore year, at which time he transferred to Pullman High School. His love and passion was playing the game of basketball. After winning two state titles with the Pullman Greyhounds, he went on to play basketball at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, where he earned Associate of Arts and Science transfer degree. The Big Bend Community College athletic website posted that “AJ personified what it meant to be a student-athlete on and off the court. Earning a 3.7 GPA.” “AJ was not only an outstanding player but a great person who was loved and respected by his teammates and coaches,” coach Mark Poth said. AJ was close to his assistant coach Mingo Scott, who is also a Nez Perce tribal member.
Throughout AJ’s youth, he played on many AAU teams and for Indian tournament teams. AJ’s sanctuaries were the basketball courts at the Hamilton Indoor Recreation Center in Moscow and the Washington State University REC Center in Pullman. He made so many friends on the tournament trails, the HIRC and the WSU REC. He also had many friends on top of the many lifelong friendships from elementary, junior high and high school.
AJ played football throughout his seventh and eighth grade years, and played Cal Ripken baseball during his youth. He could play any position, whether it was in football or basketball or baseball. He was a natural-born athlete. He loved talking about his back-to-back state championships he won while at Pullman High School. His Pullman Greyhound basketball team motto is, “Together forever.” He loved showing his siblings his state championship rings. He has held a close bond during his Pullman basketball career and after with his coach, Craig Brantner, and assistant coach Rick “Smitty” Smith, and his teammates.
AJ worked for the Nez Perce Tribe’s Fire Management Program as a wildland firefighter, Anabranch Solutions of Asotin restoring riparian habitat for salmon in southeast Washington and, at the time of his death, he worked as a supervisor for DABCO Grounds of Pullman.
AJ’s other passion was fishing with his family at Rapid River. He loved being at Rapid River to enjoy everything it brought. He grew up close with his siblings and cousins as a young child. He was a competitor at a very young age; he loved a good challenge, mentally and physically. He was always calm under pressure and helped family and friends in trying times, which was a characteristic he had on the basketball court.
AJ was known for his playmaking abilities on the court, his on-the-dime passes to teammates and his 3-point shooting game. AJ was a joy to watch on the basketball court with his passion for the game. His friends and family loved watching him. His parents and siblings supported him throughout his formative years playing basketball.
AJ cared deeply for many people. He treated his friends like family and showed generosity and empathy to people in his life. Even though he had older siblings, his older sisters looked to him and respected his leadership and logic, just as his little brother did. AJ had the ability to bring calmness to a storm; he was the guy to have in a time of crisis. AJ’s siblings adored him and loved him for who he is. Besides being an amazing friend, brother and son, he was an amazing uncle and loved being around his nephew, RJ.
AJ is a beautiful man inside and out. He is the type of young man who could talk and befriend people from all walks of life. He brought so much joy and light into the Miles home and family. He was always kind and generous to all. AJ had such wit and sarcasm as well; he enjoyed getting a rise out of his friends and family. Debating was his specialty. His even-keel demeanor was his advantage in any argument. AJ was full of life and a free spirit.
AJ had a close bond with his siblings and parents. As a young child, he always had a basketball in his hands. AJ and James, his little brother, were inseparable. He and James were constantly roughhousing, and the two of them would play hours of intense basketball games on a Nerf hoop in the house. James had to be by his side at all times of the day. James was so thankful that he had an older brother who taught him how to be strong, compete and be kind. The two were the best of friends (dumb and dumber), an inseparable bond. They played on the same Little League teams for baseball and basketball. They were always together and, as they grew older, working every job together (firefighting, stream restoration, DABCO), they built friendships with so many special individuals.
AJ brought so many people into the Miles family. The Miles siblings now have many brothers, because of him. Growing up in the Miles home, there was never a dull moment. This young man brought so much joy and light to a room. His smile and humor will never be forgotten.
AJ lived a full and eventful life. He was the type of individual who was determined to do the opposite of what he was told. Most importantly, this young man loved and cherished his relationships with his family and friends dearly. His love is what continues to feed the family life.
He is survived by his parents, Aaron and Julie Miles, of Pullman; his oldest sister, Selina Miles, and Riston Bullock and their son, Riston Gary Johnson Miles, of Pullman; his sister, Celilo Miles, of Manhattan, N.Y.; and his younger brother, James Miles, of Pullman, and Bryce Morrell, of Pullman. His paternal grandmother is Diane (Annie) Mallickan; his aunties are Rebecca Miles, Justine Miles-Ramsey and her husband, Rich Ramsey and Delores Miles, all of Lapwai. His cousins on his paternal side include Erin Ramsey, Tre Miles-Williams, Ivory Miles-Williams and Jalisco Miles.
His maternal grandparents are Jim and Vickie Bailey, of Clarkston; his aunt, Tina, and Randy Guavara, of Salt Lake City; his aunt, Diane, and her husband, Oscar Guzman, of Lewiston; and uncle Troy and his wife, Kerry Baily, of Clarkston. His cousins are Kitra, Beau, Koda and Brock, all of Salt Lake City; Melissa Guzman, Brandon Guzman, Danielle Zenner, Kelsey Reyes, Bethany Guzman and Shirley Guzman, all of Lewiston; and Jesse Bailey, Bree Ruark and Olivia Bailey, all of Clarkston. And he has many great-nieces and nephews and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his grandfather, David J. Miles Jr., this past June.
We have an account set up with (Potlatch No. 1 Financial Credit Union) P1FCU 67335 S2.1 AJ Miles, under Julie and Aaron Miles for AJ’s life, for his giveaway (Potlatch) memorial we will hold next year at this time, as well as for a future memorial basketball tournament to honor AJ if anyone would like to donate. We thank you all for all the memories and love for our son. He is a beautiful soul never to be forgotten.
Memorial service will be held Thursday evening at the Pullman High School gymnasium, from 6-8 p.m. The funeral service will be Friday morning at 10 a.m. in the Pi-Nee-Waus Gym in Lapwai. Following the funeral service and last meal with AJ at the Pi-Nee-Waus, we will bring AJ home to Pullman Kimball Funeral for cremation. We will at a later date have an interment for AJ. Never forgotten and together forever.