About three minutes into his postgame press conference, Les Miles stopped addressing the reporters and started talking to someone not even in the room.
He paused, stared up to the heavens and a delivered a message to his mother.
“Martha Miles,” he said. “This was a great night. I miss you, Mom.”
Martha passed away Friday, less than 24 hours before her son was to lead LSU on the field against an undefeated Ole Miss team. Not only did Les have to deal with the emotions of prepping his team for its biggest game of the season, he now had to handle unspeakable loss.
Les gathered the team together Friday around 10 p.m. He informed them of his mother’s death, but he didn’t want that to distract his players.
“He just tried to make it about the team, because that’s what it’s about,” said cornerback Jalen Collins. “It’s hard losing a parent like that, but at the end of the day, we had a game to play. So that’s what he tried to keep our focus on.”
That didn’t prevent the team from showing just how much their coach means to them. Tre’Davious White called it a bonding experience, and the Tigers rode that emotion into Saturday’s game.
“Words can’t describe the moment we had as a team,” White said. “You don’t want things like that to happen, but it brought this team so much closer. We go through things like that together, and it makes us stronger. It just amps us up a little bit more to play it for him.”
The emotions of his mother’s death were soon replaced by the emotions of the game. After LSU held off one last Ole Miss attack to seal the 10-7 victory in Tiger Stadium, the team gathered together once again.
But this time it wasn’t about a loss.
“I can’t tell you the number of young men that threw their arms around me and said, ‘We love you, Coach,’” Les said. “It’s as touching as anything I’ve had.”
An emotional 24 hours for Les Miles
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