Donshae Miller’s legacy to live on

Published 8:22 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2018

CHOCOWINITY — Players and coaches stood in a circle around a No. 23 Southside jersey prior to Saturday’s regular-season finale against Bear Grass. They observed a moment of silence for former Seahawk great Donshae Miller, who passed away on this past Friday at the age of 21.

His jersey remained draped over an empty chair during the game. Southside went on to win, 66-62.

Miller, a 2015 graduate, was nothing short of a phenom during his years in teal. He finished his high school career with 1,158 points, 321 rebounds, 218 assists and 205 steals, according to MaxPreps.

He played a vital role in some of the most memorable Southside basketball games in recent memory. His clashes with Northside’s Bam Adebayo — now a standout rookie for the Miami Heat — were the stuff of legends.

“The games he played against Bam. It was just phenomenal to see a 5-foot-8 guy going against a 6-foot-9 guy,” Southside coach Sean White said. “They didn’t necessarily match up against each other, defensively, but just seeing the scoring onslaught by both of them.”

One of the most famous basketball games in Beaufort County in the last decade or so saw Southside and Miller go head-to-head with Adebayo and his Panthers. The Seahawks were down by three points when Miller picked off a pass and bolted the other way.

Instead of taking the 1-on-1 matchup and driving to the hoop, Miller pulled up for a deep 3-pointer. The shot fell and the fans erupted as Miller surpassed the 1,000-point mark and tied the game.

Then, with less than 10 seconds left in a 65-65 tie, Miller telegraphed another play and ended up drawing a shooting foul at the other end. He converted on both of his chances at the line to lead Southside to a 67-65 win.

“It was like a half-court shot,” Adebayo remembered of Miller’s 1,000th point. “I remember sometimes we’d be at the free-throw line. I’d be talking to my team, and he’d be talking to his team. I’d go into halftime and ask, ‘Hey, how much did Donshae have?’

“’Oh, he has about 20 at half. No big deal.’ … The hype was real just because he had his team on his back like I’d have my team on mine. Both of us were captains. We were both competitors. We both wanted to go win that game.”

Donshae Miller jumps for a basket. Photo by Bill Hand/Sun Journal Staff

As impressive as he was on the hardwood, Miller was also something else as a person. Those who knew him described him as polite, hard working and as someone who loved life. He touched the lives of so many. White said he was an influence for many of the basketball players that currently make up Southside’s roster.

“The memorial we did for him Saturday before our boys’ game, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place. I know I couldn’t hold it together,” White said.

Added Northside coach Mike Proctor: “Obviously, he was a really, really good basketball player. The thing I remember most about him was that he was always nice to me personally. He always had a little grin on his face. … Donshae always just seemed like he enjoyed life, and he was a heck of a basketball player.”

Just about everyone who knew Miller shared the same sentiment: “It doesn’t feel real.”

What is real, though, is the impact he had on the rich history that is Beaufort County basketball. Even though he’s gone, that legacy will survive.