She’s married to an NBA veteran, but don’t call her a basketball wife

C.J. and Lauren Miles on their honeymoon. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Miles)

In 2009, Lauren Smith and C.J. Miles had just met and the two began exchanging friendly text messages.

She was a college senior playing basketball at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi and he was heading into his fifth year in the NBA, playing small forward for the Utah Jazz.

Fast forward seven years, the two are now married with a home in Indiana — where C.J. has played for the Indiana Pacers since 2014 — and two enormous puppies aptly named Shaq and Penny.

I had a chance to catch up with Lauren about several things, including how she met C.J., her love and passion for doing volunteer work and the negative image some people have of the women who marry NBA players.

Q: First off, for people who think C.J. is the only basketball player and athlete in the family, tell me about your sports and basketball background.

A: I grew up in a very active and athletic household. My mom played just about every sport in high school. My dad played basketball and currently cycles about 75 to 100 miles just about every weekend. My brothers all played football, basketball or soccer. My first love was actually softball. I played shortstop and pitched a little bit, and I was a stud. My dad used to call me the “Little Hurt,” nicknamed after Frank Thomas, of course. Around fifth grade my best friend at the time convinced me to try basketball because I absolutely HATED it. I played one season with her at the youth center league and didn’t pick up a bat again until my freshman year of high school. I decided basketball was what I wanted to focus on. At the time I was living overseas in Okinawa, Japan. When we moved back stateside I started playing AAU trying to get some college looks. Initially I signed with Temple Junior College. I played one final summer of AAU basketball after my senior year of high school with the San Antonio Hoops. At one of the tournaments, the coaches at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi were in attendance. They were there watching one of my teammates/best friends, Dee, who had already signed. I actually tore my ACL for the first time during that tournament and the coaches at TAMU-CC still decided to sign me. I ultimately ended up attending TAMU-CC because it’s a Division I school and I thought it would be a better opportunity for me.

Q: Is there anything on the court you’re better at than C.J. is?

A: I would be lying if I said there’s anything I can do better than C.J. LOL. I will say he’s a 3-point specialist and I prefer the mid-range. I did beat him 1-on-1 once and I never let him forget it!

Q: How did you and C.J. first meet and how you two started dating?

A: C.J. and I were introduced through a mutual friend — his childhood friend, A.C. A.C. and I attended TAMU-CC — he was actually one of the managers for the team my freshman year. A.C. had C.J. and I exchange numbers. We would text a little bit but nothing serious. That was back in the summer of 2009. That fall my best friends and I decided to start a tradition of meeting up in a different city for Labor Day weekend and the first city we chose was Salt Lake City, where my best friend Tiffany lives. At the time C.J. was playing for the Jazz, so I hit him up and told him I was in town for the weekend. Of course, he didn’t believe me. But we ended up meeting him and a few of his friends at a club and that was the first time we met each other face to face. It took me a year to finally give in and give him a chance, so we didn’t start dating officially until 2010. I was still in college so we did the long distance thing for a while.

Q: Your life has had to change pretty drastically since you two became engaged, right? Not just in preparing to get married and start a family together, but I’m sure there has been some newfound spotlight on everything you do, seeing how he’s in this elite club of NBA players. What’s been the biggest personal adjustment for you?

A: I think becoming a wife in itself is an adjustment. I am someone’s WIFE. I still catch myself smiling when I realize my last name is Miles now and not Smith. But the one thing I don’t think people realize is how much the wife gives up when she marries a professional athlete. At the time C.J. and I got engaged, I was working for a wonderful doctor down in Katy, Texas. I started a new career as a surgical assistant and I absolutely LOVED my job and I was thriving. Once we got engaged and I moved to Indianapolis, I had to leave all that behind. That, for me, was the biggest adjustment: giving up everything to be with the man I loved and I was willing to do that. On the same token, I am also fortunate enough to do whatever my heart desires now because I have the time and the means to do so.

Q: How much more conscious are you of the things you say and do publicly? Like your hilarious tweet about Draymond Green last week was harmless, and most people took it that way. But it sort of went viral. What was that like for you? And how did your appearance on His & Hers about the tweet come about?

A: This is something I struggle with from time to time because I can’t just tweet or post things without thinking about the repercussions first. Not only do I represent myself, but I obviously represent C.J. as well. If I’m watching a game, for example, I can’t always send my “coaching tweets,” as C.J. likes to call ’em. Or I can’t engage in certain topics on Twitter simply because its just not a good look, so I have to scroll and laugh. The Draymond tweet was something I did not expect to blow up! It was just a random thought that crossed my mind while C.J. was guarding him and I sent the tweet. On Twitter, all it takes is the right person with the right amount of followers to send the timeline in a frenzy and thats what happened. The first popular basketball tweeter I saw retweet it was @HPBasketball and I knew it was about to get crazy so I got off Twitter for the night. LOL. There were several verified accounts who had RT’d it so I imagine thats how it got to @Jemele Hill and those guys. I just want to clarify, though, that the tweet was sent DURING the game, not before. Jemelle Hill got that wrong. I wasn’t able to actually watch the segment on His & Hers because I was at the gym, but a couple of my followers sent me tweets about it.

Q: Switching it up a bit, I’ve known you for several years now and I know how your family has hosted active military members and veterans in your home for holidays, so you’re no stranger to giving and volunteering. Tell me about some of your volunteer efforts with the Pacers and what that’s been like for you.

(Lauren’s parents are both retired servicemembers. Photo courtesy of Lauren Miles)

A: I try to do as much volunteer work with the Pacers as I can. Because of the rich tradition of those who have served in my family, I obviously try to attend as many of the events that involve the troops. Sometimes I think the troops are under appreciated and I want to make sure I do my part to let them know that we are thankful for them. It’s so rewarding to be able to give back and to hear people say that they appreciate whatever it is that we’re doing to help. I believe that we are ALL called to serve others and its important that we do so while we can. We never know what kind of impact it may have on another individual’s life.

Q: As the wife of an NBA player, the media (and a particular VH1 show) hasn’t always portrayed you and other wives in the best of ways. What are a couple of your biggest pet peeves about the way the wives of basketball players are portrayed? And outside of some of the other wives on the team, who do you look to among your peers as someone you’re close with and learn from?

A: My biggest pet peeve about the VH1 show is that there is only ONE actual basketball wife. LOL. People, hopefully, realize that “minor” detail and don’t assume basketball wives behave in that manner. It is far from the reality. Not even close. Alexis Mahinmi (wife of Indiana Pacer Ian Mahinmi) is definitely a person I look to learn from. She’s been an NBA wife for several years now and she took me under her wing when I first got to Indiana and helped make the transition easier. Samantha Garcia (longtime girlfriend of former Pacer, current Jazz player George Hill) is another vet that I have learned from as well. Watching her become a new mom and sometimes having to do things on her own while her fiancé is on the road, it’s tough. I have learned a lot from both of them and admire them so much.

Q: Going back again, C.J. is having a career year in terms of shooting percentages (FG%, 3pt%, FT%). This JUST SO HAPPENS TO BE THE CASE right after y’all get married. Coincidence or nah? Lol.

A: I would like to take some credit for that. LOL. But in all honesty, C.J. put in the work this off season to put himself in a position to play the way he’s been playing and I am extremely proud of him.

Q: Outside of basketball, what are some of the things you enjoy doing when you and your family aren’t in the spotlight?

A: C.J. and I are so low-key. We really just enjoy lounging around, watching TV, playing with the dogs, going to the movies, etc. We don’t live an extravagant life. We are really chill people.

(Lauren and C.J. pose with their dogs, Shaq and Penny. Photo courtesy of Lauren Miles)

Q: C.J. won’t be 30 years old until the end of the season, but he’s already a 12-year NBA veteran. Very few people can say that. He could reasonably play 20 years in the league. Have you all thought about how you want to spend your careers AFTER the NBA, though? I’m guessing he’ll be anywhere from 35–38 years old at that point. What does the future look like?

A: We have had this discussion before. Basketball has obviously played a huge role in both of our lives and ideally we would like to have our own AAU team — a girls team and a boys team — but who knows? I believe C.J. will venture into color commentary. His knowledge of the game is amazing and he loves to talk. LOL. Either way, we know we want to be settled somewhere in Texas with a few kids and living a comfortable, carefree life.

C.J. Miles is averaging 12 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist off the bench for the Pacers this season. He’s shooting career-bests from the field (48 percent), 3-point line (45 percent) and free throw line (92 percent). He’s currently 3rd in the NBA in free throw percentage and 10th in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage.

You can follow Lauren Miles and all of her hilarious tweets at @iamlaurenmiles.