We are pleased to announce the newest member to our Life Athletes family. His name is Trever Miller and he is a 14-year veteran of Major League Baseball, and most recently from the St. Louis Cardinals.
By way of introduction it would be hard to top the following story by Tom D'Angelo of the Palm Beach Post:
The lowest point for Trever Miller came as he was sitting on his patio, in the rain, drowning his misfortunes in a six-pack while lightning cracked in the sky all around.
The left-handed reliever had just been hit hard while playing for the Tampa Bay Rays, and the pressure of caring for a handicapped daughter born with a condition so rare that doctors could find just 20 other cases in history was overwhelming.
"I woke up the next morning with a hangover, looked in the mirror and said, 'What are you doing?' " Miller said. " 'You've got two other kids who look up to you for strength and you're being immature.' "
Miller quickly got his priorities in order and replaced drinking with running. Now, at 36, he is in his second season with the St. Louis Cardinals and his daughter continues to fight on despite the odds.
Grace Miller was born with two holes in her heart and a chromosome disorder so rare that it has no name. She cannot speak or walk. A feeding tube is inserted in her intestine; another tube helps her breathe.
She will be 6 in June and weighs 37 pounds, but she is the only child with this condition documented to live past a year.
"It challenged my faith down to the foundation," Miller said.
Pari Miller packs a bible in her husband's suitcase before each road trip. One day late in the 2004 season Trever pulled it out and threw it against the wall.
"It found its way back into that bag," he said. "I was like, 'OK, I see what you're saying.' " He said he developed a drinking problem, which didn't affect his job, but it became a problem at home. "I'm glad I caught it quickly," he said.
Now he devotes his life to Grace and his other children, Tyler, 13 and McKenzie, 12. "Having a chronically ill handicapped child can engulf you if you really let it," Pari Miller said. "At some point with Grace, all of her ordeals and problems you ultimately have to work out your feelings yourself."
Pari Miller refers to the night Trever sat drinking in the rain as "his night to work it out." Miller went for a jog the next morning and just kept running. In 2008 he completed the Walt Disney World Marathon. When he got home he hung his medal around Grace's neck. It still hangs on her bed. "That was the hardest thing I ever did physically," he said. "I was emotional when I crossed that line. I was tearing up."
Miller then decided he needed two more medals, for Tyler and McKenzie. In January, he completed his third Disney marathon, finishing in less than 4 1/2 hours. He now would like to run the 26.2-mile race while pushing Grace through the Magic Kingdom.
And each time he runs, Miller wears a T-shirt that reads: "26 for Grace, .2 for me." "I think our faith in God and his running was his saving," Pari said.
When the Cardinals signed Miller as a free agent after the 2008 season, they knew they were getting one of the top specialists in the game. He leads all left-handers with 484 appearances in the last seven seasons, and holds the major-league record of 240 consecutive appearances without a loss, a streak that started July 20, 2006, and ended last Sept. 25.
Miller was 4-1 with a 2.06 ERA last season, his first in a two-year, $4 million contract with the Cardinals.
"When your child is suffering it's hard to focus on anything but that," Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said. "He's been able to use this to get stronger.
"Trever transcends the game in terms of being a father, a husband. Those are the types of people you want in your organization."
The Cardinals are Miller's seventh team. He's been consistent, pitching between 44 1/3 and 53 1/3 innings in each of his nine full seasons.
But more important than statistics, Miller realizes that time spent with his daughter is short. "We know the hourglass is turned over and the sand is running out," he said. "That is tough because you don't want to outlive your children, but odds are we are going to outlive Gracie.
"That's going to be a very difficult time in our lives. But because of who we are and because God has put Gracie into our lives and has centered us, we're going to be fine either way."