Friday, January 8, 2010

Billy Mills

Nope, not some guy I'm dating.

Billy Mills won the '64 10,000 meter (6.21 mile) run in the Olympics. The first Native American to do so. He was virtually an unknown when it happened.

Check this out:
he's the one in the dark jersey, #722

I love hearing the guy yelling "Look at Mills! Look at Mills!" I think that perfectly shows the excitement and unexpectedness.

I heard about Mills from one of my teachers who was personally able to meet him and have a private conversation with Mills for about an hour. During the hour, Mills basically just told him story after story.

He told about a time when he was in Barcelona (I think for the Olympics again - maybe just to watch? I don't know.) with some of his family and they overheard drunk reporters talking. The conversation went something like this -

Reporter 1 - What's the name of that Indian guy that one that race? The really fast one.
Reporter 2 - Oh, that drunken Indian? I don't know. I don't know his name.
Reporter 1 - Do you know whatever happened to him?
Reporter 2 - Oh, drunken Indian, I think he 's dead. Went back to the Reservation. Died out there. Drunken Indian.

Mills' daughter to Mills - Dad, go over there and tell them who you are.

After hearing the conversation go on a little bit longer, Mills finally went over there.

Mills to the reporters - Are you talking about Billy Mills?
Reporter ? - Mills! Yeah, that's the name of that drunken Indian.
Mills - I happen to know he's still alive, and he's not a drunken Indian.
Reporter ? - Oh yeah, how do you know?
Mills - Because I'm Billy Mills.

Mills told my teacher that after the exchange, he went into the hallway and cried. Upset after everything he's done, to be thought of as a drunken Indian.

Mills was orphaned at 12. He joined the Marines and was a marine when he participated in the '64 Olympics. He's started his own business. ... not some drunken Indian.

more about the race
more about Mills

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