On January 8, 2022, Matthew Lee Miller died peacefully at the age of 49 at the Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. He had waged a tenacious 18-month battle against prostate cancer. One last time, he showed his toughness and zeal for life. Although comfortable in his eternal security, as the celebration of his life continued in his hospital room, he did not want to miss any time with friends and family.
Matt was born in Provo, Utah, on May 1, 1972, to Les and Joyce Miller. His father, Les, who preceded him in death by three days, taught him the important lessons that a smile and laughter are your greatest weapon and that no man is a stranger. From his mother, Joyce, who survives his death, he learned the importance of being a positive influence on others and when all else fails to be an unwavering cheerleader to family members, friends, and teams you support.
He is survived by his three siblings from whom he learned a myriad of life lessons. From his brother Mike, he learned the importance of quiet confidence and the ability to deliver in clutch situations. From his sister Debbie, he shared a special bond of being in the soon-to-be extinct-redhead club and learned the importance of having a mama bear always in your corner, and from his brother Marty, he learned toughness and the will to carry on in the midst of difficulties.
A late bloomer whose athletic drive was questioned early due to the fact that he did not dispose of his blanket or pacifier until the age of five, Matt silenced his critics quickly by appearing in eight straight backyard wiffleball all-star games and being a five-time all-pro selection in Nerf backyard football. His athletic prowess continued into high school.
He spent his freshman year as a Shawnee Mission South Raider, playing football and baseball. He capped a successful freshman year with hits in 16 consecutive at-bats. Matt and his parents then moved to Southern California where he became a San Diego CIF stand out for the next three years on both the football and baseball fields as a Sun Devil at Mount Carmel High School. He was the starting catcher on the 1989 Sun Devils CIF championship team. That squad finished ranked in the Top-10 nationally. Over the next two seasons, he was a first-team all-league and second-team all-CIF performer in baseball and football. In 2021, Matt was enshrined in the inaugural class of the Mount Carmel Hall of Fame. Upon completion of his high school athletic career, he accepted a full-ride scholarship to Texas A&M.
While at Texas A&M, the football team made two Cotton Bowl appearances, and the Aggie Baseball Team made an appearance in Omaha at the College World Series. In 1993, he transferred to Kansas State University. His initial success at Kansas State was on the baseball diamond. His sophomore season, he batted .386 in Big 8 play and earned second-team All-Big 8 conference honors. The highlight of his junior season was the Big 8 tournament where he batted over .500 and was a first-team all-tournament selection. At one point in his K-State baseball career, he had an 18-game hitting streak. This success was a precursor to what would become his finest year as an athlete, 1995. Matt earned the starting quarterback job and led Kansas State to their first ever 10-win season and Top 10 ranking. He was a finalist for the Davey O'Brien Award, which is given to the nation's top quarterback. He earned second team All-Big 8 honors, becoming the rare individual to capture both second-team All-Big 8 hardware in both football and baseball. At the time, he set almost every single-season passing record in K-State history. In the final year of the Big 8, he broke the record for total touchdowns accounted for with 30: 22 passing and 8 rushing.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and transitioned seamlessly into coaching. He would spend the majority of the next 15 years coaching at both Kansas State and Garden City Community College. As a player and a coach, he began his collegiate career with 13 straight bowl game appearances and won over 80% of his games. He took immense pride in the fact that he played an integral role, not only as a player but as a coach, in the most remarkable turnaround in college football history as a member of the Kansas State Wildcats. To list all the coaches he played for or coached with would be impossible, but of special note is the pride he took in knowing through good times and bad, the greatest college football coach of all time, Bill Snyder, remained loyal to him, even visiting Matt at the hospital days before his death.
If you were a teammate of Matt Miller’s, you were a brother for life. Not only did he believe in you, but you believed in him and that anything could be accomplished together. He had the rare ability of being a friend to all and effortlessly breaking down walls that often divide.
Matt had an uncanny memory and could effortlessly remember play calls, family events, and useless facts with stunning accuracy. He was an underrated dancer and a ridiculously fast eater.
He loved to give nicknames and in equal parts to receive them. By no means is this list complete, but here is a sampling of some of his nicknames: 6, Bucky, Buck Scrib, Little Buck, Mill Dawg, Millzie, Red Rocket, Uncle Sissy, the Water Rat, and Wiz Nut.
Amongst all the names and nicknames he received, by far the one that he took the most pride in was the word, “Dad.” His legacy is his children and his impact on the world can be seen through them. You can see Matt's imprint on his girls in almost everything they do. From the way they talk on the phone, the way they sleep, the way they phrase words, their movements on the athletic field, their smiles and laughter. Whether it's through the wit, tenacity, and natural ability to lead of his daughter Mia; the compassion, sense of teamwork, and athleticism of his daughter Maggie; or the fire, sense of adventure, and the charming use of words of his daughter Dani.
By his standards, Matt died a wealthy man. His empire was his friendships and his family.
We will close with the words Matt used to end almost every phone conversation,
In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family has asked that a donation be made to Matt’s daughters Go Fund Me account. 100% of all donations will go to the girls’ continuing education.
Fundraiser by Todd Renko : Matt Miller #6 Legacy Fund (gofundme.com)
A celebration of Matt’s life will occur in late summer or early fall.
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