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Why faith, family and basketball mean everything to USU’s Brock Miller


Why faith, family and basketball mean everything to USU’s Brock Miller

To the nation, he is the tall, bald, headband-wearing guard from Utah State University. To his youth Sunday School class, he is Brother Miller, the fun energetic teacher bringing “Come, Follow Me” to life. To his family, he is Brock, a husband, son and younger brother, about to get an MBA and become a new father in the spring. 

He’s also an advocate, personally meeting with kids and teens and starting an Instagram account this last year to connect families and individuals with alopecia. Brock Miller has alopecia universalis, an autoimmune disease which means his body cannot grow any hair.

But this doesn’t define him, nor does it discourage him. Faith, family and basketball get him through.

Following the prophet

“They say ‘bald is beautiful,’” remarked Miller, and it is all he has known for most of his life. 

Miller grew up in Sandy, Utah, in a basketball-playing family. His older brother Corbin played at Harvard and was featured in the Church News in 2012.  Another brother, Brandon, played at the University of Utah and Dixie State University. His dad played at BYU–Hawaii, and his grandpa played at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Several male and female cousins have played or still play basketball at the collegiate level. Miller started playing as a little boy.

Brock Miller at the beach with his family in 2007 when he was 10 years old. His family was really close and supportive as he grew up.

Brock Miller at the beach with his family in 2007 when he was 10 years old. His family was really close and supportive as he grew up.

Credit: Provided by Brock Miller

His family did not know what exactly was happening when he started to get bald spots at 8 years old. No matter what doctor they visited or which treatments they tried, nothing would really last long. 

His older sister would help him by cutting his hair evenly twice a week as the patches of hair came out. His brothers supported him and looked out for him. He leaned on his family.

“I was really fortunate to have such a great support group of family. I am the youngest, and everyone was really protective of me and really helpful,” Miller remembered. 

He learned about the power of following the prophet during that time. One of his older brothers told him that prophets have taught that opening the Book of Mormon invites the Spirit.

“I would leave my Book of Mormon open on my windowsill right next to my bed all the time. Following the prophet was a huge help to help me get to where I needed to be mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically in my life.”

His family lived the gospel and kept the commandments together as a family unit. Miller knows that allowed them to have the Spirit with them, which gave him perspective and peace and allowed him to learn to apply the Atonement of Jesus Christ in his life.

Turning challenges into strengths

He doesn’t give too many details about his middle school years, only to say he was bullied. It was a hard time. The other kids were not kind to the young teen who by then was completely bald. But that experience made him kind and gave him empathy and a desire to reach out to help others. 

Brock Miller, front center, with his 5th grade basketball team in Utah. By his middle school years alopecia had taken all his hair.

Brock Miller, front center, with his 5th grade basketball team in Utah. By his middle school years alopecia had taken all his hair.

Credit: Provided by Brock Miller

It’s part of the reason he started an Instagram page called Alopecia Family, where kids and adults could share their stories and connect with others going through similar things. He also has had kids with alopecia and their families come to a USU basketball game or meet him for lunch. 

That connection and empathy are also in the lessons he teaches with his wife, Bailey, on Sundays to his youth Sunday School class, who are around the same age he was when the bullying was at its worst.

His bishop, Bishop Jeff King of the Riverside Ward in the Logan Utah Mount Logan Stake, said Brock and Bailey Miller are perfect for the calling, and both always reflect positive, happy can-do attitudes.

“Brock is a friend and advocate for our youth,” said Bishop King. “He is a great example to youth and adults alike of applying gospel principles and turning a life challenge — whatever it might be — into a strength.”

Basketball became another outlet besides the gospel and his family during that challenging teenage time. He gained confidence inside and out as his talents and his testimony grew.

Miller played basketball for Brighton High School and then served a mission in the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission from 2015 to 2017. His height — 6 feet 5 inches — and his alopecia made him stand out “like a sore thumb.” But he said he had a great experience and incredible opportunities.

“I had so many situations where people would come up and ask, ‘Why are you bald?!’” he laughed. But it never offended him. He would answer them and tell them his name — “and also by the way, I’m a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and here’s what we believe.”

People would open doors and invite him in and want to know his story. He would crack jokes with others on the street to break the ice. It allowed him to have so many teaching experiences and opportunities that he never would have had without alopecia.

Brock Miller said as a missionary in Argentina from 2015-2017, he “stuck out as a 6’5 bald dude.” But it opened many doors to conversations about the gospel.

Brock Miller said as a missionary in Argentina from 2015-2017, he “stuck out as a 6’5 bald dude.” But it opened many doors to conversations about the gospel.

Credit: Provided by Brock Miller

The Aggies

Miller began playing basketball at Utah State University in 2017.  Miller is one of the leading scorers for the Aggies this season, recently helping the team beat a Big 12 opponent Oklahoma in the Myrtle Beach Invitational in November with a season-high 16 points, including four catch-and-shoot baskets from the 3-point line. 

His record is seven 3-pointers in a single game, which is tied for sixth in USU history. His honors include academic all-Mountain West the past three seasons, and Mountain West Scholar-Athlete accolades four years in a row.

He earned national attention during three consecutive Mountain West Conference tournament title games in as many years as well as the 2021 NCAA Tournament, when USU was the 11th seed against Texas Tech last March. Television announcers and sports reporters remarked on his trademark headband and his skills as a guard. The Aggies did not advance past the first round, but Miller has confidence in his team’s abilities this year.

“We’ve come together really well,” he said about his teammates. “It’s a lot of fun, our chemistry is really good. We play well together, we share the ball. I think this will turn out to be a really special year if we get better every day.”

Brock Miller stands with his mother Cathy and wife Bailey after the USU men’s basketball team won the Mountain West Conference championship on March 16, 2019.

Brock Miller stands with his mother Cathy and wife Bailey after the USU men’s basketball team won the Mountain West Conference championship on March 16, 2019.

Credit: Provided by Brock Miller

Future hopes

Miller is finishing a graduate degree at USU and has one semester left. While he is a senior, he still has one more year of eligibility to play college ball because of COVID-19 rule allowances. He hopes to help the Aggies reach the NCAA Tournament again this spring.

He also has another beautiful hope for the spring. On March 4, Bailey is due with a boy, their first baby. The Aggies have their last game of the regular season scheduled that day in San Jose, California. But Miller said he has heard that first babies tend to come late, so he would love it if the baby is born right in a window between that last game and the Mountain West Conference Tournament on March 9.

Brock and Bailey Miller were married in the Salt Lake Temple on May 4, 2019.

Brock and Bailey Miller were married in the Salt Lake Temple on May 4, 2019.

Credit: Provided by Brock Miller

Miller plans to continue advocating for others with alopecia and connecting them on Instagram through Alopecia Family.  He started it in part because he went to lunch with someone with alopecia who for years had never met anyone else like him.  

“The whole idea behind the page is to connect people that have it or that know people that have it, so that they can then share their experiences and help each other. I want to create a big family. It’s creating an awareness, but also connecting them with each other,” said Miller. 

Brock and his wife Bailey Miller are on the back row with his parents, siblings and their families in 2020.

Brock and his wife Bailey Miller are on the back row with his parents, siblings and their families in 2020.

Credit: Provided by Brock Miller

He has more basketball ahead of him at USU and hopefully even beyond college. He stays close with his family, who were always there for him growing up and remain supportive now. But above all, he wants to make sure others know of his deep testimony of the gospel that he grew from a young age by opening the Book of Mormon in his room and access the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“I know the feeling of feeling alone at times and being the odd one out,” he said. “But it’s crazy how when you apply the gospel in your life, how you can turn challenges into great experiences to help others.”

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