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Former Ohio State lineman Miller reflects on mental health journey in keynote speech at 13th Faces of Resilience Event

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Though retired from football, former Ohio State lineman Harry Miller is still a vocal presence on the Ohio State sideline. Credit: Katie Good | Asst. Photo Editor

Entering Ohio State as a freshman in 2019, Harry Miller and the rest of the incoming Buckeyes gave a list of goals they wanted to accomplish to the coaching staff.

As Miller laid out the plans for his future, he found it easy to come up with football goals and academic achievements, but he couldn’t say the same for the personal goals section. After some thought and reflection, he settled on one achievement to strive for: “Be a good man.”

Miller has used his platform and drive to touch the lives of others through both conversation and generosity. When legislation regarding name, image and likeness passed in July 2021, Miller donated proceeds to the Mission For Nicaragua nonprofit, spotlighting an area where he’s traveled on mission trips in the past.

As he spoke at Ohio State’s 13th-annual Faces of Resilience event at the Ohio Stadium Sept. 20, those in attendance, including head coach Ryan Day, could tell that Miller is fulfilling that goal and becoming a better man each day.

“We knew early on that Harry was special,” Day said. “He would go down to Nicaragua and his heart was as big as anyone’s I’ve been around.”

Since his retirement from football in March after announcing his mental health struggles and thoughts of suicide on Twitter, Miller advocates for mental health awareness by reflecting on his life experiences, inspiring others to spread love and be open about their feelings.

“Even if it frightens you, take a risk and dare to love and to be loved,” Miller said. “You’d be surprised how many problems that solves.”

A big part of the love he’s experienced comes from Miller’s mother, who he said has always been supportive of him through good times and bad.

“There were things that we had to fix and grow in our relationship, and we had a great relationship even,” Miller said. “Mental health, suicide and depression are things that can strain those or pervert them and adulterate them into things that are unimaginable and unrecognizable.”

As he stood next to his mother after his speech, Miller said their relationship became even stronger because of the hardships they went through, saying he’s “the luckiest son in the world.”

Though his family, former teammates and coaches have all supported Miller throughout his journey, Dr. K. Luan Phan also played a role in Miller’s recovery.

Phan, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Ohio State, has helped Miller realize it’s OK to open up to others and seek help.

“We hold so many of our athletes as heroes, and so when your heroes are vulnerable, it’s so powerful for everyone else because you don’t feel alone,” Phan said. “As young people, it’s such a powerful message to have the freedom to express those kinds of emotions.”

Miller is still around the Buckeyes football team and is finding other ways to still make an impact and “be a good man.” He described his new role with the program as similar to a “bard” from the board game Dungeons and Dragons.

“I just want to be there to increase the morale of the team,” Miller said. “Bards play music for their heroes. I just hope that I can be on the sideline helping my teammates, helping my friends.”

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