Remembering my friend, “Big Mike”

By SCOTTY NICHOLS
Sports Editor

Normally, when I write columns they’re meant to be funny, simply give anMe&Mike
opinion or even an attempt to ruffle feathers and generate discussion.

Today, I write this column with a heavy heart and tear-filled eyes.

Last Saturday evening, Itawamba county lost an outstanding human being, and I lost a very dear friend.

I first met Maikhail Miller when he was 12 years old on the baseball field. I coached against him for a year and a half before I had the pleasure having him on my team.

I was instantly drawn to him. He was a phenomenally talented athlete, but more importantly, I could see that he was just a really good kid.

Maikhail was soft-spoken, well-mannered, generous, well-liked and humble for as long as I’d known him. As he grew older and he began to receive even more attention for his unbelievable athleticism, none of those aforementioned traits changed. He was still the same old Maikhail, even with a certain degree of “local celebrity” status.

As I coached Maikhail over the years, through junior high and then even through high school when I worked as an assistant at IAHS, we developed a very close and unique relationship. He was one of my players, but we became close friends. He was like a little (although, physically, much bigger) brother to me.

I used to joke with him that he was like one of my kids before I ever actually had my own kids.

Even after his high school career was over and he took the football field at Ole Miss and Murray State, Maikhail knew that my door was always open, and he took me up on the offer countless times.

Many Friday or Saturday nights, while most kids his age were out doing who knows what, I would see headlights shine through my living room window and hear a knock on the door before it would open slowly and then hear, “What y’all doing?” in that deep, baritone voice.

He was there the day of my wedding. He was there the day my first child was born. There’s no doubt he would’ve been there when my second child was born, had he not been off at school.

He was my fishing buddy. My traveling partner. My pick-up basketball or touch football teammate. My opponent for a game of Madden on the Playstation. He was a guy who shared a lot of my interests that I could just sit and talk and chill with.

Last Saturday night when I received the call that Maikhail had passed away after an auto accident, it left my heart shattered into a million pieces.

I sob as I write this piece, but I sob for selfish reasons.

I know he’s in a better place and I’ll see him again someday, but I weep because I can’t enjoy his physical presence anymore on this earth.

All his friends and family can attest that Maikhail was an absolute joy to be around, and that’s what I’ll miss the most. Just being able to enjoy his company.

Maikhail Miller was a ridiculously talented athlete during his life, but he was an even better person to know.

My heart breaks for his loss, and I pray for peace and comfort for his parents, Hubert and Charletta, and his siblings, Megan, Vijay and Tray.

He was a wonderful kid from a wonderful family and will not soon be forgotten. He touched many lives during his short 23-year stay on this earth, and it was a blessing to know him and be part of his life.

I love you buddy, and I can’t wait to see you again some day. Rest easy, Big Mike.

scotty.nichols@journalinc.com
Twitter: @ScotNic24

About Scotty Nichols

Graduate of THE University of Mississippi. #HottyToddy. I like sports. And BBQ.

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