2021 has gotten off to a wild start. We have seen craziness at the Capitol, the inauguration of a new POTUS, and COVID-19 continues to plague the world. Amid the craziness, The Commoner is bringing another issue of Baltimore’s Best & Brightest. Today, we are highlighting Tyree Miles, a Black man born in Baltimore City. Tyree is an entrepreneur that has multiple passions such as fashion and writing.
Dawaun: Good day, sir. How are you doing in these crazy times? Also, tell us your name and a bit about yourself.
Tyree: I am a proud father of 8 children. I lost one of my angels at two months due to a heart condition. I grew up the oldest of 5 children. As a kid, I was very athletic, and I was good at playing basketball. I was so good that Dunbar high school, a place known for producing a few NBA legends, recruited me to play there. It was pretty rough for me growing up because I had to make tough decisions. Do I go to school, or do I sell drugs so that my siblings and I can eat? It was no picnic coming up in the city. I graduated from Dunbar in 1995.
Dawaun: Can you tell us more about your experiences growing up in Baltimore City?
Tyree: For me, it was kind of the best and worst of both sides of town, which means that I had family that I lived in East Baltimore and family in West Baltimore. When I say “the best and the worst,” I saw my first murder in East Baltimore at 8-year-old, but I was also doing innocent childhood activities in West Baltimore. East Baltimore also had great childhood moments, but some of our friends were already in the drug game and having sex by 9-years-old. I have a prominent and respected family, so it was easier for me in some ways. I never used those people in my family as leverage. Like NBA legend Sam Cassel is my cousin, but people would never know. That’s because I don’t brag.
Dawaun: It’s funny you mentioned Sam. Who were your biggest influences?
Tyree: Growing up, I was a huge Michael Jordan fan. As I got a little older, I noticed I had ways like my dad. Anybody that knows him will tell you that he is a “man’s man.” My dad is my most significant influence.
Dawaun: When did you make “the switch”?
Tyree: As a young person, I was somewhat of a successful drug dealer. My brother and I survived in the game until he got arrested and sentenced to 9 years. The circumstances of my brother’s arrest made me realize that I had to chill out. I made the switch because I learned the hard way that THE STREETS DO NOT LOVE YOU!
Dawaun: So, you have the radio show. You have the clothing line. Where did that “hustlers sprite” come from?
Tyree: So the Republic of Great Men was born in federal prison. My brother came up with the idea while he was serving time. It has a unique and important meaning. The word republic tends to mean serving the people, and G.R.E.A.T.M.E.N stands for God Reveals Everything And Time Manifests Excellence Naturally. When he came home, we got straight to work. We like to dress very well, so it was a natural thing. Our business products mean that you are wearing something that has a special message. It’s more than just a brand of clothes to us. I’m also in the process of writing a book. I got blessed with an opportunity with the radio show, and I wanted to pay it forward by putting some people on a platform that I never had.
Dawaun: You have been helping guide the youth of Baltimore for a while now. I wanted to know when did the desire to do that happen?
Tyree: That happened before I started down at Calverton Middle School. Around that time, I realized that there were young brothers in the same situation or something similar to mine. I met you (Dawaun) and some other kids there. Those kids didn’t have someone tell them right from wrong. Many people were not taught about the consequences of their actions.
When I got to Calverton, I saw so many mini me types. One of our mutual soldiers named Charlie Brown, and I used to talk about it all the time. Some of my best relationships with people came from meeting you guys there. I felt obligated to be 100% real authentic with you and the rest of the fellas. There was no other way.
Dawaun: As a journalist, I want to thank you for your time. As your little brother, I will say thank you for all the lessons you taught us. I appreciate you.
Dawaun Davis is an activist and political writer from Baltimore, MD. Davis is a proud Foundational Black American, and he hopes to use his growing platform to help young Black people with their struggles.