KEY POINTS

  • Miller admitted that he was unsure whether the victim was involved in the killing of his friend when he pulled the trigger
  • The former Portland Blazers president said he hopes his story will bring inspiration
  • Miller only started telling his inner circle, including Michael Jordan, about the secret over the last several months

Nike executive Larry Miller has admitted to killing a teen when he was a gang member more than 50 years ago. The 72-year-old former Portland Trail Blazers president said his decision to reveal the long-guarded secret, which was kept from even his inner circle, was “really difficult.”

In an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated published Wednesday, Miller said, “I tried to hide this and hope that people didn’t find out about it.” Howard Beck of SI wrote that Miller kept the secret from his children and friends as he feared the “exposure” could ruin his career. Beck further wrote that more details will be revealed in Miller’s book, “Jump: My Secret Journey From the Streets to the Boardroom,” which he co-wrote with his eldest daughter, Laila Lacy.

In his interview with the sports magazine, Miller said he did not know the victim personally when he pulled the trigger on the evening of Sept. 30, 1965, in an act of “retribution” for the killing of a friend by a rival gang.

The victim was identified as Edward White, 18, at the time of his death. Miller admitted that he was unsure whether White was involved in the killing of his friend. Miller said “what makes it even more difficult” for him was that he “did this, and to someone who – it was no reason to do it,” adding, “that’s the part that really bothers me.”

Miller told the magazine that he wanted the facts to be revealed on his own terms so he spoke with SI before details were leaked ahead of the book’s release in 2022. “If I could go back and undo it, I would absolutely do that.”

Miller revealed that he joined the Cedar Avenue gang at 13, and it was at that time his troubles started. “By the time I was 16, I was just straight-up gangbanger, thug. I was drinking every day,” he said. He was arrested for a variety of offenses on multiple occasions and from ages 13 to 30, he spent most of the years in juvenile detention and in prison.

Miller started telling his inner circle about the secret over the last few months. He has opened up to Nike founder Phil Knight, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, several other Nike executives, including Hall of Fame coach George Raveling, and basketball legend Michael Jordan. “I’ve been blown away by how positive the response has been,” Miller said.

With the revelation, Miller hopes that his story will inspire people who’ve been in prison. “It’s really about making sure that people understand that formerly incarcerated people can make a contribution. And that a person’s mistake, or the worst mistake that they made in their life, shouldn’t control what happens with the rest of your life,” he said.

After continuing his education behind bars, Miller worked to become the vice president of Nike Basketball in 1997, Fox News reported. He then became president of the Jordan Brand about two years later, then went on to serve as president of the Trail Blazers in 2006. Six years on, he returned as the president of the Jordan Brand. He is now serving as the Jordan Brand's chairman.

The Oregonian reported that Miller became the first Black president in NBA team history, and during his tenure with the Blazers, the team went to the playoffs three consecutive times.

Columnist John Canzano has raised questions about Miller’s big reveal, noting that the sports executive has yet to address where the proceeds of his book will go and whether Miller has reached out to the victim’s family. Canzano said he asked Miller for an interview to address his questions, to which the Nike exec responded he will let Canzano know when he is ready for further interviews.

Larry Miller - Nike Jordan Miller revealed in an interview with SI that he killed an 18-year-old when he was a teenage gang member. In photo: the Jordan Brand's president Larry Miller speaks at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on Sept. 13, 2018. Photo: FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images