In June, 2004, we did a story on Randy Niles, one of the better beach volleyball players from the 1960s and 70s, and how after so long he had made it out to Manhattan Beach one Saturday afternoon to finally see his daughter, Brooke Niles (pictured above, bio linked here), play in a pro beach volleyball event (linked here).
Randy Niles was a regular at her matches when she was a standout setter and hitter at Calabasas High and then onto an All-American career at UC Santa Barbara, but poor health prevented him from seeing her play on his home court — the beach.
He suffered from a congestive heart condition, which developed after a six-way bypass operation in 1995. He also had diabetes, high blood pressure., skin cancer and other ailments. In 2001, with his heart pumping at only about 20 percent, doctors gave him only about a year to live, but he’d fought back and was there seeing his daughter for the first, and probably the last time.
Last week, Randy Niles died of a heart attack. He was 60 — somewhat remarkable considering all the health hurdles he had over the last 10 years.
On Tuesday, May 11, at Sorrento Beach in Santa Monica, some of Niles’ friends plan to gather for a tribute, followed by a toast.
Chris Marlowe, the former AVP star and current Denver Nuggets TV play-by-play man, said he plans to be there. If not for Marlowe’s help, Niles would have been far worse off. Marlowe rallied many in the beach volleyball community to come to Niles’ aide after they found out about his plight. Many wished to be anonymous donors, but they were big names in the sports community.
“It’s a little tough accepting it,” said Niles at the time, living modestly in a bachelor rental in Thousand Oaks after once spending some time living on the street, broke and depressed, after helping rear his family in Woodland Hills. “I’ve been successful and here I am a pauper. But I don’t require much. Expectations aren’t that high.”
Niles, also played four years in the Angels’ minor-league system as a catcher in the late ’60s before injuries forced him to quit, died just before his daughter, now married and playing on the tour as Brooke Hanson, competed in a recent AVP event in Brazil. She finished fifth with partner Lisa Rutledge.
According to the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper, Hanson, 29, found out an hour before her match that her father had died.
“I wasn’t thinking about the match at all,” she said. “I know how proud he was of me.”