KU Track Star Billy Mills Teaches About the Value of Sports

June 10, 2010

Former Kansas Track & Field Star Billy Mills

LAWRENCE, Kan.– –Kansas track and field alumni Billy Mills is best known for being the first and only man in the western hemisphere to win the gold medal in the 10,000 meter race. However, Mills is not as concerned with the win as much as he is concerned with the journey that brought him to victory in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

“I take great pride in my journey through sports,” Mills said, during his visit to Haskell Indian Nations University on June 9, where he is also a honored alum.

Sports has taught Mills how to succeed in life and in alignment with his Native American heritage he his giving back and passing on all of his life lessons to inspire others.

Mills, who has received numerous awards including, induction to the KU Hall of Fame and United States Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame and the recipient of the Jackie Robinson Humanitarian Award, journey to his success was not easy. He was orphaned at 12 and fought through adversity and racism during his life, especially in the track and field world.

“The first three times I made All-American I was asked to step-out of the photo, it no longer pains me, but I will never forget the words.”

Mills believes he learned responsibility and accountability through sports; which in-turn helped him to build character and develop critical thinking skills.

“It (sports) teaches kids critical thinking and when they grow into adults to implement incredible and adaptable programs of change for the betterment of themselves, the tribe and the nation,” Mills said.

The humanitarian travels 300 days out of the year and plans to visit four more countries before he retires in 2012, rounding out the total number of countries he’s visited to 100.

“I have traveled throughout 96 different countries around the world,” Mills said. “I learned something, the power of giving creates global unity through dignity, power and beauty of global diversity and that is the future of human kind. I learned all of that through sport.”

Mills even learned the value of reading the newspaper through sports.

“The first time I was featured in the newspaper and I in the library and read the article over and over again,” Mills said. “My coach saw me sitting there reading and told me as long as I was reading the newspaper I should read something about the nation and something about the world.”

The track star strongly believes he would not be where he is today without sports, sports even saved Mills from two suicide attempts.

Furthermore, during these hard economic times Haskell is contemplating cutting sports out of its programs.

“The worst thing Haskell could ever do is cut sports programs,” Mills said.

Mills is urging Haskell representatives to sit down and talk with the coaches to find a solution to the budget problems.

Even though Mills didn’t know he was going to be speaking on June 9, he thought it was a meet and greet, he still managed to inspire every person sitting in the room with his story.

“Sport taught me that it’s about the journey not the destination, Mills said. “Sport taught me it’s the daily decisions you make in life, not just the talents you possess.”

The KU alum has successfully traveled the world with his message of following your dreams and using your virtues to succeed in life and in sports.