Ohio State lineman Harry Miller spoke about mental illness and the sports world listened

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Prior to Thursday, the public knew Harry Miller as an Ohio State football lineman with NFL potential, a philosophical personality and a commitment to helping others.

He made several mission trips to Nicaragua from college. More recently, he pledged his name, image, and likeness to Mission for Nicaragua, a nonprofit organization for which he sits on the board.

Privately, Miller has struggled with the same mental health issues that claim more than 40,000 American lives a year. The disease also nearly claimed Miller’s life.

In a Twitter post on Thursday, he detailed the inner turmoil that ultimately convinced him to end his football career at Ohio State and retire medically. By doing it so publicly, he also found a new group he could help.

Mental health has been at the forefront of reforms demanded by college athletes in recent years. The question came back to the news earlier this month when Stanford goalkeeper Katie Meyer has committed suicide.

Teammates who have trained and played with Miller for the past three years took to Twitter to offer their encouragement and respect following his announcement.

“A reminder that athletes are people too and you never know what someone might go through,” tight end Mitch Rossi wrote. “I love you Harry. The world is a better place with you in it.

defensive lineman Noah Potter called Miller, “One of the strongest people I know.” Linebacker Teradja Mitchell and defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste were among the other Buckeyes who spoke on Miller’s behalf.

“It takes extraordinary courage to be so vulnerable,” wrote OSU athletic director Gene Smith. “Thanks for sharing. So proud of you and always there for you!”

Several former OSU players responded with encouragement. They included Denver Broncos linebacker and former Buckeye captain Jonathon Cooper, Big Ten Network analyst Joshua Perry and Johnnie Dixon. He recently joined the New Orleans Breakers from the USFL after persevering through injuries at OSU to serve on NFL practice squads.

“Many of us go through these emotions, but only a small group of us are ready to share,” Dixon wrote. “Thank you brother for being one of the brave. Hope you achieve all that you pursue in life. Lots of love man.

Dixon also had a message for the rest of us.

“Before you hit these players, stop and keep in mind the other real life things they may be going through because you never know,” Dixon wrote.

The message also resonated nationally. ESPN SporsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt implored his more than two million Twitter followers to stop and read Miller’s post.

“Stay well, Harry. You are loved,” Van Pelt wrote.

More importantly, however, were the many responses to Miller’s news in which people shared how mental illness and suicide had affected their lives.

Miller reluctantly released his statement, he wrote, saying his lack of privacy as a major college athlete compelled him to come forward. As his story grows, so do the chances that he helped someone else through their own dark time.

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