Les Miles lives in Baton Rouge, but his connection to Sunday's shooting on Airline Highway goes beyond that.
He knew one of the slain law enforcement officers, he told ESPN Monday during a five-minute interview on SportsCenter.
Montrell Jackson, a 32-year-old new father, was one of three officers killed Sunday when a gunman ambushed authorities at the B-Quik gas station.
"Montrell Jackson has had conversations with me and my family. (He was) just a joy to be around," the coach said in an interview with ESPN's Lindsay Czarniak. "It’s a day where the state of Louisiana and Baton Rouge has a heavy heart."
Miles on Sunday canceled his yearly visit to ESPN for the "Car Wash" in light of the police shootings, choosing to stay in Baton Rouge, he said, to be around his players. Several LSU football players have relatives in law enforcement, including tight end DeSean Smith.
Smith's father is a state trooper. Receivers coach Dameyune Craig's uncle is an officer in the Baton Rouge Police Department. Freshman tight end Jamal Pettigrew also has a family connection to law enforcement, a spokesman said.
"The community is heart sick over the loss of three fine civil servants," the coach said. "I wanted to be around my players. We have several players who have law enforcement fathers. I wanted them to see me in the weight room, our study area and on campus.
"It also put me in position, if I can come be a part of whatever issues the police department and those agencies are having, I’d like to be a part of that too," he continued.
Sunday's shootout with a gunman left Jackson, Brad Garafola and Matthew Gerald dead after they walked into an ambushed attack orchestrated by a military veteran. It came less than two weeks after a Baton Rouge police officer shot and killed Alton Sterling.
"It’s very difficult to recognize that this is Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is a spectacular community. The interactions are great," Miles said before discussing Gavin Eugene Long, the gunman from Missouri.
"Guy from Kansas City who was in Dallas and watched the Dallas (police shootings), comes down the road and decides to end his life by attacking the Baton Rouge Police Department.
"It’s just been tragic," the coach continued. "The men that passed are all guys we recognize as being tremendous servants."
Les Miles canceled his yearly visit to ESPN in light of the killing of three police officers…
Miles was scheduled to visit ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Connecticut, on Monday for the annual seven-hour tour through its facilities dubbed the “car wash.” He was set to be interviewed in 25 separate sets or rooms at ESPN’s facilities, starting at 7:05 a.m. with the radio show "Mike & Mike" and ending with Paul Finebaum’s show at 1:45 p.m.
The school announced Sunday evening that he would cancel the trip and not reschedule. He spent much of the time during Monday's interview discussing Jackson, a 10-year veteran of the department who became a father fourth months ago.
Jackson posted a message to his Facebook page on July 8, a few days after the Sterling shooting.
"He had a Facebook post that kind of (described) what’s going on and how tired he was, but he said, ‘You can’t let hate affect your heart.’ He had the right peace for us all," Miles said. "There is no mechanism for change done through violence, not in this country, not now. Our society is too advanced.
"Change is going to take place," he continued, "but it’s going to take place in a heartfelt, caring position — kind of like Montrell would do. Montrell would be a kind, wonderful person that would help direct you. If we can all not lose sight of that, it would make us all happy."
A Baton Rouge policeman who was once injured trying to save a toddler from a burning buildin…
His interview Monday night on ESPN marked the third time in less than a week that the coach addressed the city's issues.
Thursday, he spoke to hundreds of reporters at Southeastern Conference media days — many of the questions regarding the shooting death of Sterling. The coach addressed the shooting and subsequent protests in Baton Rouge for more than four hours in Hoover, Alabama.
On Monday, he suggested, as he did last week, that football could mend some wounds.
"I think there’s a wound community-wide and it generally gets fixed when we all come together and celebrate the Tigers playing, certainly playing well," he said.
Several LSU coaches, athletes and other sports figures connected with Baton Rouge released statements to The Advocate on Sunday concerning the police shootings.
"Just a sad, sad day for our city," LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri said.
"We need to understand that taking lives is never an answer," Southern men's basketball coach Roman Banks said. "This is about all creeds, not just black and white. … There are a lot of good people in this city. There are a lot of good citizens. There are a lot of good officers. We all need to see that to make a better Baton Rouge."