Bruins

Bruins sign Mitchell Miller, who was convicted of racist bullying as a juvenile

Miller said Friday he had apologized to the victim for his actions, something he reportedly hadn't done in the past.

Mitchell Miller was released by the Coyotes in 2020 just weeks after the team drafted him after reports of his past behavior emerged. Eldon Holmes / Tri-City Storm

The Bruins made the controversial decision to sign 20-year-old defenseman Mitchell Miller to an entry-level contract on Friday.

Miller pleaded guilty in an Ohio juvenile court in 2016 on charges of assault and a violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act after he and a classmate were accused of racially motivated bullying of a developmentally disabled Black classmate, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers. Miller and the classmate reportedly forced Meyer-Crothers to eat a piece of candy that had been in a urinal while repeatedly calling him a racial slur, with surveillance video showing that Miller kicked and punched Meyer-Crothers as well.

Just weeks after Miller was drafted by the Coyotes in the fourth round of the draft in 2020, The Arizona Republic published an in-depth report of the player’s past bullying incidents. The report uncovered that Miller repeatedly used multiple racial slurs to his classmate and frequently told him to “go pick their cotton.”

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The report also found that Miller apologized to all the teams in the NHL but never to the Meyer-Crothers family. When Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong (who didn’t draft Miller) initially said that the team would keep Miller, Meyer-Crothers’ mother, Joni, told The Republic that the team never reached out to their family before or in the immediate aftermath of drafting Miller. She also said that Miller never apologized to her son.

Miller’s draft rights were renounced by the Coyotes on Oct. 30, four days after The Republic’s report came out. He was also dropped from the University of North Dakota’s men’s hockey team due to orders from the school’s president.

In September 2021, The Grand Island Independent reported that Miller still hadn’t apologized to the Meyer-Crothers family. The report also alleged Miller called Meyer-Crothers racial slurs dating back to first grade along with constantly smacking and punching him and spitting in his face.

In the Bruins’ statement announcing that the team signed him, Miller said that he apologized to Meyer-Crothers.

“When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely,” Miller said in the statement. “I bullied one of my classmates. I deeply regret the incident and have apologized to the individual. Since the incident, I have come to better understand the far-reaching consequences of my actions that I failed to recognize and understand nearly seven years ago. I strive to be a better person and positively contribute to society.

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“As a member of the Bruins organization, I will continue to participate in community programs to both educate myself and share my mistakes with others to show what a negative impact those actions can have on others. To be clear, what I did when I was 14 years old was wrong and unacceptable. There is no place in this world for being disrespectful to others and I pledge to use this opportunity to speak out against mistreating others.”

Bruins president Cam Neely said that multiple members of the organization spent time with Miller in recent weeks as an evaluation period to see if he learned from his past mistakes.

“Representing the Boston Bruins is a privilege we take seriously as an organization,” Neely said. “Respect and integrity are foundational character traits we expect of our players and staff. Prior to signing Mitchell, our Hockey Operations and Community Relations groups spent time with him over the last few weeks to better understand who he is as an individual and learn more about a significant mistake he made when he was in middle school. 

“During this evaluation period, Mitchell was accountable for his unacceptable behavior and demonstrated his commitment to work with multiple organizations and professionals to further his education and use his mistake as a teachable moment for others. The expectation is that he will continue this important educational work with personal development and community programs as a member of the Bruins organization.”

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Miller will report to the Providence Bruins upon the completion of his signing.

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