Giving Back To His Community

By Eric D. Graham
Updated: August 6, 2008

NORTH CAROLINA — Professional basketball player J.J. Miller transformed the space outside the Keansville’s Duplin County Events Center into a mini-amusement park this past Saturday, where children played with enjoyment for over six hours in the hot summer sun.

“I am not Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan. I don’t have a million dollars or anything like that..” admitted Miller, who has been playing professionally in Europe for seven years.

“But my wife Monica and I simply wanted to give back to the youth of Duplin County.”

Miller, in fact provided a care-free carnival-like atmosphere for school-age children, who had an opportunity to ride the giant jumbo slide, jump around in a large contraption known as the DRAGON bounce, throw darts in the balloon house, and have their face painted with creative designs and decorations.

Kids also had a chance to test their basketball skills at the basketball shoot out, their quickness in the 40-yard dash, their endurance in the sack race, and even their strength by swinging a heavy sledge hammer in order to win potential prizes.

If playing basketball and swinging a sledge hammer wasn’t your forte, there were table-games like checkers, chess, and dominoes along with “good-ole” country conversation underneath the shaded area along the Event Center to keep you entertained.

“We really wanted to have a relax environment. We wanted everybody in the surrounding counties to embrace each other” explained Miller, who started his basketball career at Chinquapin Junior High School.

“We wanted to get children and adults out here together having fun.”

With the temperature reaching 97 degrees outside, children attending Miller’s Community Fun Day cooled themselves off by eating ice cream and crunching on rainbow-flavored snow cones.

While many children licked melted ice cream off of their fingers, others paid one dollar to throw softballs at the dunking booth in order to see Miller take a splash in a tub of water.

Miller, in fact took several plunges under water as children laughed in approval at his misfortune.

“It was hot but I had fun!! And I’m looking forward to attending this event next year” giggled six grader, Te’keiya Sloan, of Charity Middle School.

The funds generated from the festivities and food which included barbecue chicken plates, hot dogs, and drinks went to Miller’s Driven Perfection Foundation.

“Our Driven Perfection Foundation is a foundation that my wife and I came up with in order to enhance the lives of our youth through education, mentoring and recreational programs” explained Miller.

Miller, a former standout student athlete at East Duplin High School, finished his high school career as one of the top basketball players in the state, ranking 16th out of the top 100 players in North Carolina.

As a result, due to his hardwork, he received a full athletic scholarship to play basketball at North Carolina A&T State University where he majored in Elementary Education.

He, in fact gained nationwide notoriety when he scored a record high 34 points on the Duke Blue Devils in 2000. Miller finished his collegiate career as a Historically Black Colleges & Universities All American and was ranked among the top 10 scoring guards in the country.

Therefore, he feel that it is extremely important to let children in the area know that he attended a (HBCU) historical black college and university.

“I love A &T and hopefully I can dispel some of the myths and perceptions from people who think (HBCUs) are not quality schools” emphasized Miller.

“Because if you look at the facts, those who graduate from (HBCUs) are doing great things throughout the world.”

Miller’s wife (Monica), a former school teacher and graduate of Winston-Salem State herself agreed with her husband 110 percent.

“I love attending Winston-Salem State University and I want these children to know the value of a good education.”

As a result, despite all the fun and games, Miller along with his wife showed the community that education is the top propriety of their Driven Perfection Foundation by giving away school supplies such as pencils, notebooks, and back packs.

“So many of our children feel like making good grades isn’t cool but I want them to understand that making good grades will make a difference later in life” Miller said.

“As an athlete, academics has always come first for me. I play basketball but I’m an educated basketball player so if I get hurt, God forbid…I have something to fall back on.”

NOTE: You can Google J.J. Miller and view his highlights on