Renounced NHL draft pick Mitchell Miller joins USHL team amid vile bullying saga

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The Arizona Coyotes renounced 2020 fourth-round draft pick Mitchell Miller after a racially-charged bullying incident from his past came to light. (Photo credit: Dan Hickling. Hickling Images)
The Arizona Coyotes renounced 2020 fourth-round draft pick Mitchell Miller after a racially charged bullying incident from his past came to light. (Photo credit: Dan Hickling. Hickling Images)

Former NHL draft pick Mitchell Miller, whose rights were renounced by the Arizona Coyotes after revelations of some vile bullying incidents from his past came to light, is heading back to the USHL to resume his hockey career.

Shortly after the 2020 Entry Draft, which was held in October, it was revealed that Miller and another teen were convicted in juvenile court of bullying and abusing Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, including using repeated racial slurs and physically demeaning their disabled classmate.

Isaiah's mother, Joni, met with the Coyotes after sending a blistering letter to the organization outlining the impact the horrifying situation has had on her son and their family, which led to Arizona renouncing the pick.

Many disturbing details started trickling out near the end of October 2020. Craig Harris and Jose M. Romero of the Arizona Republic reported that Miller admitted to an Ohio juvenile court in 2016 that he bullied Meyer-Crothers repeatedly, and also hurled the n-word against him with regularity. Miller was 14 years old at the time of the juvenile conviction.

Joni Meyer-Crothers said Miller's bullying and abuse of her son Isaiah began in second grade.

Among the most vicious acts revealed, Miller and the other unnamed student made Meyer-Crothers lick a lollipop that was previously smudged along a bathroom urinal. Isaiah Meyer-Crothers had to undergo tests for HIV, hepatitis, and various other sexually transmitted diseases, according to the scathing report. All of the tests came back negative.

The USHL's Tri-City Storm — where Miller spent the 2019-20 season prior to his selection to Arizona — released a statement fully backing their decision to bring Miller back into the organization.

“We know Mitchell very well and we are convinced what happened when he was 14 isn’t indicative of his character or who he is now as a 19-year-old young man," president of hockey operations and head coach Anthony Noreen wrote.

“Mitchell and the Storm do not minimize what happened five years ago. Bullying and racially offensive remarks are wrong under any circumstance. Mitchell is fully aware of that, he regrets what he did, and is genuinely sorry. He’s grown and matured greatly since then, and we believe in the person that he’s become. We will continue to support and guide Mitchell to ensure his maturation and commitment to helping others continues.”

Joni Meyer-Crothers told The Athletic that Isaiah and the family have still not received any kind of formal apology from the former Coyotes draft pick, aside from the the court-ordered one Miller was essentially forced to write after his conviction.

“We still have no apology, so they can say anything (they want)," she said, via The Athletic. "But until he actually is remorseful, we stick to how we feel: It’s between him and God.

“We have given this to God. What is in the dark will be brought to light."

Miller himself also spoke on Wednesday after the signing:

"I'm grateful for the chance to resume my playing career with the Tri-City Storm. What I did when I was 14 years old was hurtful to others, and I'm truly sorry for that. I've done a lot of growing up over the past five years, and become a mature person who is respectful of everyone at all times. I pledge to make the most of this opportunity, and be a good person on and off the ice, helping others in as many ways as I can."

According to The Athletic, citing sources, "at least one other USHL team explored signing Miller." The 19-year-old did not play at all during the 2020-21 campaign after the University of North Dakota reneged his scholarship in the days following the initial Arizona Republic report.

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