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Editor’s Note: Our usual format for Five Minutes with….is a little different for our first installment of 2009. Instead of spending five minutes with us, new Cubs second baseman Aaron Miles spent nearly two hours with us. He shared his harrowing tale of a life-changing night during spring training 2000, when he was held hostage in a Florida motel room with a 9mm pointed at his head. The following is an abbreviated version from an upcoming Vine Line Exclusive story…
Aaron Miles: I had gone out to dinner with my uncle who was visiting. I said I was tired
and was going to bed. There was a bar in the motel where you could go sing karaoke, so he said he’d go in there….I was lying in my bed reading when two guys with ski masks and guns walked into my room. I had left the door a little open and it was one of those open motels (second floor). I figured my roommate was out, so I left the door slightly ajar…
VL: Can you remember what was going through your mind at that time?
AM: My heart was beating out of my chest. They made me lie face first on the bed while they started taking my wallet and some clothes. All I kept thinking was “just take what you want and go.” At first I thought it was a joke, when they first came in….
VL: So when the police finally arrived, what happened?
AM: Well, one guy who was sort of the leader, jumped off the second floor, onto the parking lot and ran off just as the cops were coming. The guy who was behind me put the gun to my head and pulled me back into the room. All the while this was going on, my roommate and other teammates like Morgan Ensberg and Keith Ginter were hogtied in the room next door. But they had broken their ties and called 911. But before that, they called my room. When one of the robbers answered the phone one of my teammates asked: “Is this Miles?” The robber said I was in the bathroom. At that point they knew I was in trouble and they called 911. Problem was, it took a while for the call to go through. At the motel, so many guys were using the phones–remember in ’99 there were no cell phones yet–so all the lines were blocked.
30 MINUTES GO BY….
VL: At this point, what is taking over? Instinct or fear?
AM: The cops were outside the door and the guy keeps telling me to open the curtains and look out the window. I could feel the barrel of the gun on the back of my head….I just felt something welling up inside me. I didn’t want to go out this way. I wanted to have some say, some control over the outcome of this situation. So I felt him momentarily move the gun to the right side of my head. That’s when I turned and quickly grabbed the barrel of the gun.
We must’ve wrestled for about 20 seconds. My right hand was holding the gun and his left hand was punching my mouth. I bit his arm twice. Then he bit me on the back. At one point I just sort of did a reverse squat thrust and we both went flying back against a wall. I think we both were surprised and we were kind of frozen, neither one of us wanting to give up. That’s when I started yelling to the cops at the top of my lungs….”Get in here!!!”
SHOTS RING OUT
VL: The cops shot the robber while you both were still holding the gun?
AM: Yup. They got him six times, three in the right shoulder, twice in the upper chest and once in the mouth. Point blank. They told him to drop the gun so many times. But he just would not let go of the gun. And since I was sort of off to his left with the gun farthest away from me, his right side was exposed….I am convinced they did the right thing….The guy didn’t die. He was in critical condition for a while and eventually went back to jail.
VL: How did this experience change you?
AM: It made me understand that while baseball is important to me, the most important thing to me is family and things really are not life and death out on the field. I’ve said since then the 0-for-4s aren’t as bad and the 4-for-4s are that much sweeter….But it also was empowering in a way because I was able to stand up for myself and get out of that situation. I had a say in how that situation ended up. And I think I’m stronger for it.
Check out a future issue of Vine Line to read more about Aaron Miles’ experience. To subscribe, go to http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/fan_forum/vineline.jsp,