Many longtime NBA fans are familiar with the play and antics of former Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller.
Miller tormented opponents for 18 years and was eventually inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
However, he wasn’t the only Miller to ascend to basketball greatness.
Reggie’s older sister, Cheryl, was a high school hardwood phenom who matriculated to USC.
Happy birthday to the great Cheryl Miller.
In high school, she once scored 105 PTS (46-50 FG) in a 179-15 win!
She also has 2 NCAA Championships and 5 gold medals! pic.twitter.com/MdVkNyZ0RJ
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 3, 2020
As a Trojan, she established herself as one of the premiere female basketball players in history.
After a devastating knee injury, Miller became a college and professional head coach as well as a respected broadcaster.
She continues to be a legacy to all young women who aspire to play the game of basketball.
This is the story of Cheryl Miller.
A Family of Athletes
Cheryl Miller was born on January 3, 1964 in Riverside, California.
There were eventually five Miller children and their father, Saul, instilled a love of competition in his offspring.
Older brother Darrell would eventually become a Major League Baseball catcher.
Younger brother Reggie, of course, would become a future “Knick Killer.”
'Froback Friday! The best brother-sister hoops tandem of all-time, Cheryl Miller and Reggie Miller. From Riverside Poly to the Hall of Fame. pic.twitter.com/UIvGO7EZ1s
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) September 14, 2018
By the time she entered Riverside Polytechnic High School in 1978, Miller was rapidly growing into her 6’2” frame.
Her length, agility, grit, and knowledge of the game transformed Riverside Polytechnic into a basketball powerhouse.
In four years as a starter for the Bears, Miller led the program to a 132-4 record.
She would score a total of 3,026 points, haul in 1,353 rebounds, and dish out 368 assists.
Miller also obliterated the state scoring record by averaging 37.5 points per game.
Among her many accolades while a prep standout, Miller is credited as the first female player to dunk in a basketball game.
Then, on January 26, 1982, in the spring of her senior year, Miller did the extraordinary.
That day her brother, Reggie, scored 40 points in a game and came home bragging to his sister.
What he didn’t know was that same night, Cheryl had a game as well.
In a contest against Riverside Norte Vista, the Lady Bears crushed their opponent 179-15.
Cheryl Miller was unstoppable and scored 105 of her team’s points (a single-game record).
Young Cheryl Miller had haters. A lot of haters.
Then she scored 105 points … in one game. 🤭
— espnW (@espnW) November 13, 2018
Her notoriety would bring her four All-American nominations along with four state championships.
Street & Smith’s Magazine named Miller their national High School Player of the Year after both her junior and senior years.
Miller was no slouch in the classroom either and received the Dial Award as the national high school scholar-athlete of the year in 1981.
Miller’s outstanding stats on the court, as well as her academics, brought college recruiters from all over the country.
However, as one of the many suburbs of the greater Los Angeles area, Miller’s Riverside home wasn’t too far from the University of Southern California.
She chose the school and wasted no time putting on a show for the Trojans.
Cheryl Miller is one of the greatest women’s basketball players of all time.
— TimeoutSPORTS__ (@TimeoutSPORTS3) July 17, 2021
Miller was quickly named a starter as a freshman.
With her smooth game and unparalleled athleticism, Miller led the 1982-83 USC team to a 31-2 record and a national title.
In 1983-84, Miller and the Trojans repeated as national champions after a 29-4 regular season.
She was named the MVP of both tournaments.
During her sophomore year at USC, Miller was chosen as a member of the USA National women’s basketball team.
After coming up short against the Soviet Union in the 1983 World Championships, Miller and the National team won a gold medal in the ‘83 Pan American Games.
They next played in the William Jones Cup, a pre-Olympic competition, in early 1984.
Miller would lead the team to a perfect 8-0 record during the competition.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) August 6, 2016
Then, in the 1984 Olympic Games, Miller led the National Team to a gold medal.
Miller Wraps her Trojan Career
Miller’s performance for the U.S. in the Olympics made her an international star.
After finishing her junior season with a Sweet 16 appearance, Miller was named by Sports Illustrated as the National Player of the Year.
That distinction made Miller an almost unparalleled basketball celebrity.
Her 1985-86 senior year was perhaps Miller’s best at USC.
Despite coming up short for a third national title, Miller scored a career-high 814 points along with career bests in field goal percentage (60.9%) and free throw percentage (75.3%).
She would finish her Trojan career with totals of 3,018 points, 1,534 rebounds (third all-time in NCAA history), and 462 steals.
From 1984-1986, Miller was named the Naismith Player of the Year and received the Wade Trophy in 1985 as the Player of the Year.
Furthermore, Miller was a four-time All-American and shared the 1984 Honda Broderick Cup as the outstanding college athlete in any sport with swimmer Tracy Caulkins.
Her number 31 would be retired by the school in 1986.
It marked the first time in USC history that a Trojans basketball player (male or female) had their number retired.
Goodwill Games Champion
Not long after graduating from USC, Miller was selected to play for the U.S. women’s basketball team in the inaugural Goodwill Games in Moscow during the summer of 1986.
Picking up where she left off at USC, Miller led the team with 20.6 points per game as USA beat Russia for the gold medal.
Next up was the 1986 World Championships.
The National Team thumped their opponents from beginning to end and defeated Russia by 20 in the gold medal game.
Miller led all scorers in the game with 24 points.
Injury Leads to a Coaching Career
After her collegiate career ended, Miller was selected by several professional basketball leagues including the United States Basketball League (which was all men).
Unfortunately, during a pick up game at USC in late 1986, Miller suffered a serious knee injury.
Just like that, her playing career was finished.
Miller wasn’t done with basketball, however. She joined the Trojans as an assistant with the women’s team.
Miller also found work as a television analyst when she wasn’t coaching at USC.
In 1993, Miller took over as the head coach of the Trojans.
Her two seasons with the team brought a 44-14 overall record along with appearances in the NCAA women’s tournament.
Miller Honored, Coaches in the WNBA
During the spring of Miller’s second season at USC, she was voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The honor humbled Miller and she was modest in her acceptance.
“I wasn’t the greatest athlete and I couldn’t jump out of the gym and I wasn’t an extraordinary ball handler,” Miller said at the time. “I was just someone who loved the game so very much and had a passion for sport and life.”
In 1996, Miller worked full-time as a basketball analyst for Turner Sports and was the first female analyst to call a nationally televised NBA game.
The WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury came calling in 1997 and hired Miller as their head coach and general manager.
1/27/97 – The Phoenix (still-unnamed) Mercury signed Cheryl Miller (sister to #NBA star Reggie) as the franchise’s first Head Coach and General Manager. Then only 33-years-old, the already Basketball Hall of Famer had been the HC of her alma mater USC from 1993-95. pic.twitter.com/9GiiKpJsrb
— Arizona Sports History (@AZSportsHistory) January 27, 2022
After arriving, Miller immediately shared her vision for the team.
“Run, run, run, run, run,” Miller said about her kind of team. “Play some outstanding defense. I want this team to be physical, I want them to know the game.”
The Mercury would make the 1998 WNBA Finals where they lost to the Houston Comets.
After four seasons in Phoenix, Miller stepped down as coach after 2000 citing fatigue.
Return to the Sidelines
For the next several years, Miller was part of the fabric of the game as a basketball commentator and analyst for TNT Sports and NBA TV.
In 2014, Miller decided to return to coaching after almost 15 years.
She was hired by Langston University, an NAIA school in Langston, Oklahoma by former USC athletic director Mike Garrett.
Former TNT reporter and USC Player Cheryl Miller in the House! Head coach of Langston pic.twitter.com/4yZUYbGqSS
— Derek Opina, M.A. (@DerekOpina) March 18, 2015
In two years with the school Miller led the team to an overall record of 48-12 and appearances in the NAIA National Tournament.
Then, after Garrett became the athletic director at California State, Los Angeles in 2016, he once again hired Miller, this time as the Golden Eagles head coach.
Miller coached the Golden Eagles through the 2020-21 season.
In addition to being enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame with her brother, Miller has since been voted into the inaugural class of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 and into the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame in 2010.
Although the younger generation may not be familiar with Cheryl Miller, she continues to be a standard-bearer for women’s basketball and the sport itself.
Even though she once scored 105 points in High School and shot over 50% from the field in college. Cheryl Miller still doesn't think she is the greatest female basketball player of all time. pic.twitter.com/DP6ByMRoSq
— Jalen & Jacoby (@JalenandJacoby) March 9, 2020