Miller gives back to Utah

first_imgE-mail: sor@desnews.com When he came to the University of Utah in 1994, he was a shy, slightly overweight point guard who had to pay his way through school his first year. He still remembers walking on to campus his first day and feeling “nervous.”Andre Miller eventually got his degree on time, became an All-American and helped lead the Utes to the national championship game in 1998. Since joining the NBA in 1999, Miller has been one of the NBA’s top point guards and now plays for the Denver Nuggets.On Tuesday, Miller donated $500,000 back to his alma mater’s athletic department. Of the money, $300,000 has been earmarked for an endowed scholarship and $200,000 will go to help fund the basketball team room renovation.Miller said he’s always wanted to give back to the university and met with U. officials last fall to discuss the options. With all the details being ironed out and the Nuggets in Utah for a game tonight, the announcement was made Tuesday.”I am very fortunate to be in a position where I can give back and help others,” Miller said. “I’ve been trying to prepare myself to be able to give back and help other people, whether it’s the university or kids, and see them benefit. The University of Utah opened a lot of doors for me and hopefully this scholarship will do the same for someone else.”Utah athletic director Chris Hill was emotional as he talked about Miller and how far he’s come since first coming to Utah. He called it “a very special day for the University of Utah” and said the contribution was “one of the top things I’ve experienced since I’ve been here.”Hill read a letter he received from Miller, thanking the university for “changing my life,” and said he cherishes it so much he had it laminated.”It is the ultimate compliment for a student-athlete to give money at such a young age back to his university,” Hill said. “All of our contributions are valuable and this one’s especially valuable because of who it’s from and what it means to him endorsing his experience at the University of Utah.”Miller thanked everyone from the ski team to the media and also paid tribute to former Utah coach Rick Majerus, who he said was a big part of his development.”He prepared me for basketball and how to live my life and always made sure I was going to get my education,” Miller said.Utah coach Ray Giacoletti said he wished he had a chance to coach Miller and has appreciated getting to know him the last two summers when Miller came back to help with the Utah basketball camp.”To give back to the university like that is unbelievable,” Giacoletti said.Last year, another Ute basketball player, Andrew Bogut, donated $125,000 to the university to help upgrade the Ute basketball locker rooms, and the money from Miller will help complete the project.Hill explained the scholarship, called the Andre Miller Point Guard Scholarship, is a permanent one and is the 16th endowed scholarship overall for athletics.”This solidifies one portion of our program and allows us to expand and fund other parts of our program,” he said.Miller came to Utah in 1995 as a non-qualifier academically and had to sit out his first year. He became a starter his freshman season and eventually earned All-American honors and helped lead Utah to the 1998 national championship game against Kentucky.He graduated that year and was able to gain an extra year of eligibility, and in 1999 he was the runner-up for the John R. Wooden Award. Miller said he still follows Utah basketball and keeps in touch with his former teammates. He also said he tries to steer kids toward the university and even has a cousin, Shyra Porter, “a regular student” who is a freshman at the U. last_img

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