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October 15, 2021

Jordan Brand Head Larry Miller Shares Secret He Kept for 56 Years - He Took a Life at 16

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Jordan Brand chairman Larry Miller may be one of the most successful businessmen in basketball, but his dark past kept hunting him. Now, he’s coming clean about the killing that put him in jail.

Everyone has a secret they’ll never share, but when it starts messing with your mental and physical well-being, something needs to change. Current Jordan Brand chairman Larry Miller knows it firsthand.

For over five decades, Miller kept his criminal past away from the spotlight. Not even his close friends or children knew about it. He’s now 72, and he realized it was time to tell the world that he shot and killed a teenager when he was 16.

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Larry Miller on January 25, 2018 at CBS Studios in Studio City, California | Photo: Getty Images

MILLER’S UPBRINGING

Miller grew up in West Philadelphia with his father, who worked as a supervisor for a drywall company, his seven siblings, and his mother, who stayed at home taking care of all of them. 

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Luckily, he didn’t struggle much as a child. Apart from having “plenty of food” growing up, he was a great student – the smartest in class – and a model child for his younger siblings.

Miller did so well in school that his uncle wanted him to become a lawyer. However, life had a different destiny prepared for him. Although people had high hopes for him, he didn’t feel respected enough and wished to belong somewhere. 

Larry Miller on September 13, 2018 in Paris, France | Photo: Getty Images

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At 13, he made one of the worst decisions in his life: joining the Cedar Avenue gang in the Cobb’s Creek section of West Philadelphia. He didn’t do it for money or drugs; he just wanted to impress people in the streets.

Shortly after becoming a gang member, Miller started having issues with the law and spent some time in juvenile detention. When he was 16, he was already a “straight-up gangbanger” and an alcoholic thug. 

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THINGS GOING DOWNHILL

In September 1965, one of his friends who supposedly had nothing to do with the Cedar Avenue gang was stabbed to death during a fight with the 53rd and Pine gang.

That crime deeply impacted Miller’s life, mainly because his dead friend was “an innocent.” On September 30, 1965, the seemingly bright future Miller’s parents and uncle envisioned for him turned dark.

[Miller] stayed behind bars – first in juvenile detention and then in prison – until he was 30.

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After getting a gun from his girlfriend and drinking a bottle of wine with three other friends, Miller went searching for revenge. He was willing to kill the first person affiliated with the 53rd and Pine gang he ran into.

The unlucky victim was Edward White, an 18-year-old man who died as soon as he was shot. Miller confessed that he and his friends were drunk and in “a haze,” so he needed years to understand the impact of his actions.

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It is essential to point out that Miller didn’t even know the person he killed, let alone if he had something to do with the stabbing of his friend or if he even knew about the 53rd and Pine gang. About it, Miller said

“That’s what makes it even more difficult for me, because it was for no reason at all. There was no valid reason for this to happen. […] it’s the thing that I think about every day.”

The police arrested him shortly after the crime took place, and he stayed behind bars – first in juvenile detention and then in prison – until he was 30.

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KEEPING THE SECRET

While serving time in jail, Miller earned a degree in accounting from Temple University. He tried to get a job in a prestigious accounting firm when he was released, but his criminal past made it impossible.

In his final interview, Miller talked to the firm’s hiring partner about his past and noticed how his demeanor changed. He went as far as to tell Miller that he was ready to present an offer, but he couldn’t take the risk of his past somehow blowing back

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Knowing that he lost an incredible job opportunity due to his past, Miller decided he would never tell anyone else about it. He never lied on his job applications or interviews, though.

When he landed a job at Campbell’s, for example, he was asked if he had been arrested in the last five years, so he technically told the truth.

He confessed that talking about it was difficult, but keeping the secret was even more.

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Miller’s career skyrocketed in 1999 when he became the President of Jordan Brand. He left the position in 2006 and became the President of the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA. In 2012, he returned to the Jordan Brand. 

Six years later, former Coca-Cola Company’s senior vice president Craig A. Williams replaced Miller, who then moved to his current role: Jordan Brand’s Chairman. 

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COMING CLEAN

Miller kept his secret for over five decades as he was afraid it would damage his successful career. Not even his children, Michael Jordan, or Nike founder Phil Knight knew about it.

Now, he’s opening up about his past in an upcoming book titled “Jump: My Secret Journey from the Streets to the Boardroom,” expected to be released in early 2022.

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He confessed that talking about it was difficult, but keeping the secret was even more as he suffered from nightmares and migraines so severe that he would end up in hospitals.

Miller added that finally talking about his past made it possible for him to share his experience with at-risk youth and people behind bars to help them stay away from violence and show others that everyone deserves a second chance. 

The fact that Jordan and Knight supported Miller when he talked to them about his criminal past gave him enough confidence to tell others.

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In 2015, Miller shared some details about signing NBA players to be represented by the Jordan Brand, and he said many athletes wanted to be associated with the greatest player of all time. 

Speaking of Jordan, his daughter Jasmine recently sparked marriage rumors with her long-time partner Rakeem Christmas after posting a photo of a diamond ring on Instagram. The couple already has a kid!

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