Former Phoenix Suns player battles weight issues, hopes to inspire others

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- He played nine seasons in the NBA, including four years with the Phoenix Suns, and averaged 12.9 points per game and 7.4 rebounds.

Oliver Miller was a rookie with the Suns, when the team went all the way to the NBA finals, losing the series to Chicago, four games to two.

"Just wish we could have brought the championship home," said Miller.

Miller, however, was also known for another number.

His weight.

The "Big O", as he was called, tipped the scales at over 350lbs.

"I got tired of seeing myself in the mirror and seeing slop," said Miller, whose weight was always an issue with every team he played for.

"When I was playing, everyone was making it a big issue. always making me weigh in every single day, saying you can't eat that, why are you eating that," said Miller.

And then, there's the heat Miller took from fans of the opposing team.

"Big O do you want a cheeseburger? Yeah, hold the pickles," Miller recounted.

After signing with Sacramento, Miller even had to take abuse from the Suns mascot: his friend, the Gorilla. Video taken a game shows the Suns Gorilla, looking overweight and wearing miller's jersey.

"I was friends with him," said Miller. "I understand it's a business, but the thing that bothered me was my kids they were at the game. They were more hurt than I was."

His playing days over, Miller did jail time in Maryland for pistol-whipping a man during a fight. After moving back to Phoenix, Miller knew it was time to make a change, or risk losing everything.

"I want to live long because I have grandkids now," said Miller. I want to be able to see them graduate. I want to be able to see them grow up. I want to be able them see them become good young kids."

What was happening around Miller was frightening.

"When I heard about Armen Gilliam -- he died and Duckworth and Mason died, Cliff Rozier, and when I hear about all these guys that I played against and I played with dying, it scared me," said Miller. "The one that hurt me the most was Sean Rooks. When I heard him pass, I'm like, 'man because we were the same age, same age, came up the same year, and that scared the hell out of me."

With a family history of diabetes and high blood pressure, Miller said it was time to make a change.

"Once you see yourself in the mirror and you get tired of looking at what you are looking at, then it's up to you to make the change," said Miller.

He changed his diet, and started walking.

"I walk 30, 35 minutes. Sometimes I go an hour and 15, depending on how I feel," said Miller.

It was not always easy.

"I still have a weakness for French Fries," said Miller.

Miller says he's lost about 60 pounds, and can fit into his Suns rookie jersey.

"I use my nba jerseys as motivation," said Miller.

Now, the "Big O" wants to motivate others.

"I am available. You can reach out to bigohands1 [at] gmail [dot] com. If you need me to come out and speak for motivation or anything and I'm available," said Miller. "I'm always saying to be better, you have to do better, so why not."

Miller's health concerns are more real now. FOX 10 recorded an interview with Miller about a week prior to this article being published online. On Monday night, FOX 10 has learned that Miller has been hospitalized with a blood clot in his lung. Miller, however, says he's expected to be okay.

Oliver Miller
Phone: (623)217-4107