Reggie Miller Overcame a Debilitating Condition to Become an NBA Star

A younger generation of NBA fans might know Reggie Miller for his in-game commentary, but to an entire generation of kids who grew up in the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s, Miller was the face of three-point excellence in the NBA. The brother of a women’s basketball legend, Miller had to overcome a lot to get to where he is, but one potentially debilitating issue from his childhood almost put a halt to the Hall of Famer’s hoop dreams.

Defying all odds

People who have seen the 30 for 30 documentary on ESPN that highlighted Miller will remember that he always had an uphill climb. Although his older sister, Cheryl, dominated in a time before the WNBA, she was making a name for herself as one of the best women’s basketball players in history.

A famous anecdote from the documentary involved Reggie bragging about a 39-point outburst only to be silenced when his sister touted her 100-point performance in high school. Furthermore, his older brother, Darrell, was a professional baseball player. 

This wasn’t the only type of thing Miller had to overcome to become one of the best shooters ever, however. He was born with a deformity in his hips that caused his feet to be severely splayed. During his first four years of life, Miller had to wear leg braces with the hopes of correcting the problem, but doctors worried that he would never be able to overcome the odds.

Fortunately for him, the braces came off, and Miller’s athletic family helped ensure that he was able to lead a normal life. That normal life, however, quickly became something more than normal. Miller’s sharpshooting combined with his size made him a basketball prodigy from early on. With his medical issues behind him, he went on the path to becoming a superstar in his own right.

Reggie Miller’s career 

Reggie Miller was a brand of superstar who didn’t pop off of the boxscore without knowledge of what he did. He averaged a respectable 18 points, three rebounds, and three assists. However, even if his numbers on their own don’t necessarily live up to his status, those who saw him play know exactly why he is still touted as one of the best.

Miller was a sharpshooter in an era before sharpshooting was the norm. He was consistently one of the best shooters in the NBA, and at just under 40-percent for his career. An iron man, Miller never missed more than eight games in any season until his last year, when he played in 66 games. Aside from his shooting, however, the thing that most defines Miller’s career is his cold-blooded streak.

Miller is one of the most clutch NBA players of all time. The New York Knicks and superfan Spike Lee were a favorite target of his, but Miller had a killer instinct against everyone. This, combined with his trash-talking ability made him a larger than life figure who, even if he wasn’t going to break scoring records, was destined to make you suffer when it matters.

Reggie Miller spent 18 years in Indiana putting away opponents, and up until the very end, he proved that he could take what he was given and use it to punish defenses across the NBA.

What can we learn from Reggie Miller? 

Miller was able to overcome the odds as a child and not only walk on his own but become one of the most famous athletes on the planet. Oftentimes, it can appear as though athletes come out of nowhere and naturally make it into the NBA, but they have the same obstacles, if not bigger, that we all do on the way. He took the lemons that life threw him and made the sweetest lemonade imaginable out of them.

NBA fans are grateful for all of this too. Miller was a star before his time, and while modern shooters might shoot more than him, they have him to thank for making three-point specialists a viable force to be reckoned with. 15 years after his career ended, Reggie’s abilities as a player are still legendary, and despite the odds against him as a child, he’s all the better for it.