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Memorial tourney honors late Pullman basketball star | Sports | dnews.com – Moscow-Pullman Daily News

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Scattered thunderstorms early. Skies will become mostly clear late. Low 62F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%..
Scattered thunderstorms early. Skies will become mostly clear late. Low 62F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 50%.
Updated: August 11, 2022 @ 9:18 pm
Years of planning and $82 million in fundraising led to Wednesday’s event at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport, where the airport held a ceremonial groundbreaking for its new terminal.
As preparations conclude for the second AJ Miles Memorial Tournament to be at Lapwai’s Pi-Nee-Waus Community Center Friday through Sunday, memories of the event’s late namesake weigh heavy on the minds of his family and friends.
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The winner of the 2021 A.J. Miles Memorial basketball tournament was Team A.J. This year’s tournament starts Friday at Pi-Nee-Was Community Center gym in Lapwai.

The winner of the 2021 A.J. Miles Memorial basketball tournament was Team A.J. This year’s tournament starts Friday at Pi-Nee-Was Community Center gym in Lapwai.
As preparations conclude for the second AJ Miles Memorial Tournament to be at Lapwai’s Pi-Nee-Waus Community Center Friday through Sunday, memories of the event’s late namesake weigh heavy on the minds of his family and friends.
Miles died three years ago of a fentanyl overdose. He was 23 years old, and was survived in his immediate family by parents, Julie and Aaron, older sisters, Selina and Celilo, and younger brother, James.
“My siblings and I all grew up playing basketball, whether it was AAU or going to res tourneys or playing on reservations,” Celilo Miles said. “Basketball’s always been a part of our lives, from the time we were children and into adulthood. My family thought the best way to honor him was to put on a basketball tournament.”
A standout for Pullman High School who helped lead the team to two state titles, Miles — who was half-Nezperce — had strong ties with Lapwai and many other basketball communities around the Northwest, some of which are among those fielding teams in his honor this weekend. After graduating from Pullman in 2014, he went on to play for Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Wash.
“He had friends from all over the place, and many of his friends are still in our lives and they’ll contact the family throughout the year,” Celilo Miles said.
The first AJ Miles Memorial Tournament originally was set to take place in 2020, but like most things, the pandemic forced its postponement. The event took place a year ago, and the family intends to continue holding it annually for the indefinite future. There is no cost to the public, and prizes are awarded for the top three teams as well as for the tournament MVP and the 3-point contest winner.
“The AJ Miles basketball tournament is a time for family and friends to come together and reflect on AJ’s life and to play a game we all know AJ loved,” Lapwai basketball coach Zachary Eastman said. “… In Lapwai, basketball isn’t just about winning the state championship. Basketball brings our community together, and to have events like this shows what really basketball means to people in Lapwai and for the family of AJ.”
This year’s tournament will feature 10 teams, some from area cities like Kamiah and host Lapwai and others are traveling from as far as Yakima or Umatilla, Ore. The first game begins at 6 p.m. Friday, while competition will get underway at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday ahead of the 2 p.m. title game Sunday. Each team is guaranteed a minimum of three games.
“He was just one of those individuals; he was a really approachable person, even as a sibling,” Celilo Miles said. “The conversations I miss having with him, he was always laughing, smiling or joking around. He was just a happy person. It’s kind of hard to have a sibling that’s gone, and you don’t get to grow old with them. All my siblings and I are trying to work that out.”
Wendt may be contacted at (208) 848-2268, or cwendt@lmtribune.com.
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An aspiring novelist and a random blogger, Nitish is also a porky-mouthed banter specialist in football (soccer), films, TV Series, History, and socio-economic issues. He travels, indulges in music, and plays outdoor sports to get his creative juices flowing.