Olympic Gold Medalist; Second Native American to Win a Gold Medal
Billy Mills is the only American to have ever won the Olympic gold medal in the 10,000-meter run. A Lakota Sioux raised in one of the poorest communities in America, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Mills was orphaned as a young boy, facing prejudice and cultural discrimination most of his childhood life. It was through a running scholarship to the University of Kansas that he was able to leave the reservation.
While in college, Mills accepted a commission as an officer in the US Marine Corps, which allowed him to cultivate his winning spirit and rich heritage. He began by running 30 miles a week and eventually worked up to 100 miles every week. Basic training and an excellent track and field program helped Mills qualify for the 1964 Olympics in the 10,000-meter run and the marathon. His victory in the 10,000-meter run is often called one of greatest upsets in Olympic history.
In 1983, Mills’ quest for excellence was released on the big screen. Running Brave, starring Robby Benson as Mills, follows his life from childhood through his Olympic victory.
Mills is a national spokesperson for Christian Relief Services and has helped raise over $300 million. He is also the founder of Running Strong for American Indian Youth, an organization that helps Native American youth programs.
Since the 1964 Olympic Games, Mills has become one of the most empowering Olympic speakers on the platform. He has helped thousands of corporations and associations throughout America reach within the depths of their capabilities and perform to the greatest of their potential. Mills has appeared in a number of television commercials and has made numerous appearances on shows such as the Discovery Channel’s Ultimate Athlete, HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, and countless other athletic specials. He has also published articles in Visions Magazine, American Athletics Magazine, The College Digest Magazine, and Sports Travel Magazine.
In 1990, Mills published Wokini, Lakota for “new life, a life of peace, and happiness.” In it, Mills discusses achieving happiness and urges readers to embark on a personal journey to find satisfaction in life. Wokini blends traditional Native American beliefs with modern therapeutic principles.
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