Written by Kelsee Dodson-Carter
Romania, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Iran and China are where Jamaal Miller, number 13 and guard for Quad City Flames, has played professional basketball overseas, where all total he spent seven and a half years playing and winning two championships.
“It was amazing. I got to play and I got paid to play,” Miller said. “When you are practicing and training and working out it’s fun because it’s something you love to do. I loved it.”
It wasn’t all about playing basketball and getting paid. Miller also enjoyed the culture and seeing how genuinely nice people are. He loved the food, especially Lebanese food.
“My favorite used to be Italian, but now it’s Lebanese,” he said.
The opportunity to play overseas happened solely through word of mouth and being in the right place at the right time. All he had to do was pay for his roundtrip ticket. So he borrowed the money from his mom and traveled to Romania. The first team he tried out for signed him.
“It was luck,” he said.
Miller was already in shape and ready to play because he had been faithfully playing basketball.
“I never stopped playing basketball,” he said. “I played every day.”
Winning is what motivates Miller. He wants to help his teammates get better and pursue their goals to play overseas.
Will Causey, number 5 and shooting guard for the Quad City Flames, first met Miller in 2005 at the Lakewood Community Center League. Causey’s first impression of Miller was, “Who is this youngster out here killing us?” Causey said he was trying his best to keep his team close to Miller’s team, but Miller just kept hitting shot after shot.
“Besides how good he could shoot, his IQ of the game was pretty high at a young age,” Causey said. “He could also handle the ball like many good point guards I have seen or played against throughout my semi-pro basketball career since being in Washington state.”
Causey said Miller’s toughness, experience and basketball IQ is what surprises him the most.
“Jamaal brings not only those skills to the team, but toughness,” Causey said.
Marcus Stancil, head coach for the Quad City Flames, first met Miller last summer when they were getting ready for the MLBA Championship. Stancil’s first impression of Miller was that he seemed like a solid point guard with a high basketball IQ.
“Miller brings extra leadership on the court,” Stancil said. “He’s like a third coach.”
From Seattle, Miller has one younger sister and brother. He always admired his mom for her never-quit attitude.
“She just gets it done, some way, somehow,” he said.
Miller’s dad and step dad were both coaches at Garfield High School where he graduated from and then went on to Green River College.
Miller said he was never serious about school. He just wanted to play basketball. He was awarded 37 Division One scholarships, but couldn’t accept any of them because of his grades.
“I would tell my younger self to take his ass to class,” he said.
Now he sees that education is very important. Although he is the oldest in the family, he was the last one to get his degree and is happy that he finally did. Miller just recently graduated from medical school to become a respiratory therapist.
“I want to help people breathe and breathe better,” he said. “I love to help people.”
When Miller isn’t playing basketball, he is spending time with his daughters who are 14, 11 and 9 and have mad skills on the soccer field.
Miller said we should expect Quad City Flames to win the game against the San Diego Guardians on February 2, 2020.
“We want a win,” he said. “And by a lot of points.”
He encourages the fans to come out and watch some great basketball.
“We are trying to win another championship for the city and it all begins with the fans,” Miller said.
Don’t miss the Quad City Flames take on the San Diego Guardians on February 2, 2020 at Nisqually Youth Center. Purchase advance tickets online or at the door.