Upon graduating from EKU with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1981,
he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army and retired as a
colonel following a 30-year career.
EASTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY
Nicknamed Horse by his teammates, Miller was named most valuable player
for both the semifinal and final games of the 1979 championship run.
even took him to college and professional games as far away
“We saw things were changing in him,” Johnson said.
“During my teaching career, I saw lots of Alvin Millers. Not
everyone made it; they failed to be consistent or had no parental
But Alvin had the equivalent of two mothers rooting him
on. He embraced all the positive strokes that were being given
to him and went on to a string of successes that took him
through middle and high school and on to Eastern Kentucky
University where he became a star running back with the
nickname Horse while attending the university’s large ROTC
Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
Later he joined the Army as an officer, studied for a doctor
of theology degree, became an ordained minister and, after
10 years teaching, returned to military service as a chaplain.
Miller often comes down to Fort Pierce from his home in Nashville, Tennessee,
to check on his mother, Elizabeth, who is now in her 80s.
He retired after serving for 30 years. His proudest moment
came during a visit by President Barack Obama to Fort
Campbell, Kentucky, where the team that took out Osama
Bin Laden trained. Miller was chosen to give the invocation,
an honor he cherishes.
STILL IN TOUCH
Miller and Johnson remain tight today. She’s now 75 and
retired in 2005, but she’s still a very important part of his life.
Miller, 63, lives in Nashville, Tennessee, but is a frequent
visitor to his hometown to check on his mother now in her
80s and his old teacher and godmother. Miller and Johnson
talk by phone almost every day.
“I think he sees me as a combination of his older sister and
his godmother and as a second mom,” Johnson said. “My
family is his family and always will be. It’s been an amazing
ride. I can talk about him for hours.”
Miller writes in The Horse that even during his worst days
in school, before Johnson, he always wanted to do well, he
just didn’t know how.
Rita Johnson showed him how. She showered him with attention
and love — something that was missing at home. He
blossomed into a prized student and has gone on to enjoy a
life of success. He could easily have ended up behind bars or
even in the electric chair. He notes how two boyhood friends
were executed, while others are still on death row.
Today, Miller is happily married with grown children. He
gives back to Fort Pierce through his role as a founding member
of Restoring the Village. He’s paying forward all the love
and attention a teacher gave him.