Billy Mills was born on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Orphaned by the age of 12, he attended Haskell Indian boarding school in Lawrence, Kansas, and began running in order to train for boxing. He developed a love for running and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. A scholarship to the University of Kansas in 1959 gave Billy Mills an opportunity to leave the reservation and pursue the thing he loved the most, running. While in college, he suffered feelings of alienation and low self-esteem brought about by being alone in a white world. As a result, he performed far below his potential. Shattered by self doubt, struggling with feelings of rejection because of his race, Billy nearly lost any and all sense of purpose. In a state of emotional disarray, and recognizing that he must put his life together, Billy Mills accepted a commission as an officer in the US Marine Corps’. It was the Marine Corps’ recognizing Billy's talents and rich heritage that empowered his sense of self-worth. His competitive and winning spirit was restored. The discipline and focus he learned in the Marines changed the course of his life. Billy Mills learned that he “belonged."
Over the next two years, Billy Mills increased his weekly mileage from 30 to 100 miles per week. Basic training, plus an excellent track and field program, helped Mills qualify for the 1964 Olympic Games. Billy made the 1964 Olympic team in two events: the 10,000 meters and the marathon. Prior to the 1964 Olympic Games, no American had ever won the Gold Medal in the 10,000 meters. Billy Mills overcame these odds and won the Gold Medal in the 10,000 Meter Run. His victory is considered one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history, and some have stated that his performance at Tokyo was the greatest achievements in modern times. Billy Mills set an American and Olympic record of 28:24.4, a mark all the more extraordinary because he ran 46 seconds faster than his previous personal best.
Since the 1964 Olympics, Billy Mills has shared how he pursued excellence in the world of sports with corporations, associations, universities, and schools. He has inspired thousands of individuals globally to reach within the depths of their capabilities and perform to the greatest of their potential to the betterment of human kind. Billy Mills is National Spokesperson for Christian Relief Services.
Billy holds five Honorary Doctorate degrees. Billy Mills' quest for personal excellence was released on the big screen. Running Brave, starring Robby Benson as Billy, follows Billy from childhood through college, ending with his 1964 victory at Tokyo. Billy Mills is also the author of "Lessons of a Lakota A Young Man’s Journey to Happiness and Self - Understanding."
In the year 2000, Billy Mills was selected by Sports Illustrated Magazine as the top athlete of the century for the State of South Dakota. Runner's World Magazine selected Billy's race as one of the top ten Olympic Track races of the century, and Billy Mills as one of the 20 Spirits That Moved Running in the Century!
- The Pursuit Of Excellence
- The High of Self Competition
- Global Unity Through Global Diversity
- Going for the Gold
- Winning Spirit
- Controlling Diabetes: It’s the Journey, Not the Destination
Celebrity, Sports, Motivation, Minority
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