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Journalism Showcase: SportsCenter Profiles Former Buckeye Who Thanks Coach, Staff For Saving His Life

Reporter Jen Lada: “We are lucky to have people like Harry Miller willing to dredge up their darkness to hopefully keep others from taking their own lives.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Trigger warning: ​descriptions of self-harm/suicide

Sunday’s SportsCenter “SC Featured” segment “Day to Day” shares a mental health success story at Ohio State University as former football player Harry Miller discusses how he received help when he was experiencing suicidal ideations.

On June 5, 2019, Buckeyes football coach Ryan Day spoke publicly for the first time about his father’s suicide, which happened when Day was a child. Following his news conference, Day took steps to improve Ohio State’s mental health department by upgrading what had been three part-time positions to four full-time mental health professionals.

Shortly before the 2021 season began, Miller, an offensive lineman, came to Day in crisis, sharing that he had suicidal thoughts and needed help. Immediately, Miller, who later retired from football, received help. He credits Day and the Ohio State staff for saving his life. Miller spoke with reporter Jen Lada.

“Day to Day” will debut in the 8 a.m. ET hour of SportsCenter and will re-air in other editions afterward.

Lada discussed the interview with Front Row:

Was it a challenge to get Miller to open up for your interview with him?
Not at all. I’m so acutely aware of the challenges – both physically and emotionally – of recollecting past trauma, so I always defer to the subject’s comfort level on how much they want to reveal. In Harry’s case, he was open to every inquiry – responding thoughtfully, authentically, and articulately. I believe he recognizes the importance of transparency when trying to remove the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide.

Miller and Lada
(Michael O’Connor/ESPN)

What did he say that impacted you the most?
So many things. Harry has such a unique way of expressing himself, drawing upon literature and metaphors to describe his experiences. I could fill a book with introspective, eloquent comments about his struggles and survival, but I was really moved by his confession that his is a ‘life preserved by kindness offered to me when I could not offer kindness to myself.’ He also provided this perspective: ‘what a great thing it is to be sad,’ meaning to be alive is to feel and that we shouldn’t discourage ourselves from feeling all of the emotions, not just the pleasant ones.

What do you hope viewers take away from this story?
Just because someone is successful by traditional standards doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling. Accolades and accomplishments don’t neutralize negative thoughts. In Harry’s case, he says it made them worse. There are support systems in place to help navigate the messiness. Reach out. Youth and young adult suicide and self-harm is a national crisis. We are lucky to have people like Harry Miller willing to dredge up their darkness to hopefully keep others from taking their own lives.

ESPN’s Jen Lada (R) interviews former Ohio State football player Harry Miller. (Michael O’Connor/ESPN)
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