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Background:

Starting in 1999, Larry Miller worked alongside Michael Jordan to build Nike’s Jordan brand, which today generates more than $5 billion in revenue for Nike. But his journey to the C-suite was a unique one.

Growing up in West Philadelphia, Miller joined a gang, which led him to serve multiple prison sentences for a series of crimes, including second-degree murder.

Through a rehabilitation programme, he was able to begin his college education while in prison, and upon release, he was able to start his career with an accounting job at the Campbell Soup Company. In 1997, Miller started working for Nike under founder Phil Knight, and became the first Black vice president of apparel at the company before going on to become president of the Jordan brand in 1999.

But it wasn’t until years later that he went public about his backstory with the publication of his book, “Jump: My Secret Journey From the Streets to the Boardroom.”

At BoF VOICES 2022, Miller sat down with UTA executive Darnell Strom to share his story, talk about the power of second chances and explain how he found redemption.

“I’ve come to the realisation that a lot of times we are afraid to talk about the obstacles that we overcome. But in reality there’s no shame in overcoming obstacles,” said Miller.

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Key Insights:

  • “When I was 16, I shot a kid and he died and I was charged as an adult at 16 years old… pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, was sentenced to four and a half to 20 years,” Miller revealed at BoF VOICES 2022.
  • Once he had revealed his story, Miller says Michael Jordan and Phil Knight were supportive and encouraged him to share his story. “It’s been amazing to me the response that I’ve gotten from people who I’ve known and worked with and who have just encouraged me and embraced the fact that I’ve got this past.”
  • Following the release of his book, Miller apologised to the family of Edward David White, the man he killed. In White’s honour Miller created a foundation for his descendents to attend university or trade school.
  • “I think I’m a perfect example of the fact that a person can change if given the right opportunities… the right chance. But it starts inside of you. You have to believe that you can change,” said Miller.

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