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Hall of Fame Profile: Faith Saves Corey Miller

by Brad Muller

“When I was about seven or eight years old, my great grandmother said to my mother and me, ‘God is going to use that boy.’ I heard that 28 years later in my heart at the most difficult time in my life when I was ready to end my life.”
Corey Miller

The “Pastor of Pain” knows all about it; not just dishing it out, but also his own. Former football standout and 2022 South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Corey Miller (1987-1990) had a difficult transition from being a star college and professional athlete to almost losing it all that led him down a dark path where he considered taking his own life. His faith saved him, and now he’s trying to help others.

“After I retired from football, I was in the clothing business here in town and went through a hard time and lost a lot of money,” Miller said. “I went through a horrible time of not handling retirement very well. When I retired, I went through a whole depression situation for years. I basically became an alcoholic, drinking all the time. I was partying all the time. I went through a divorce. I was a horrible husband and a horrible father. I was running from what God wanted me to do. I contemplated suicide in 2002 in Charleston.”

It was the recollection of something his great grandmother had said many years ago that brought him back.

“I had a gun in my hand and was ready to take my life,” Miller said. “When I was about seven or eight years old, my great grandmother said to my mother and me, ‘God is going to use that boy.’ I heard that 28 years later in my heart at the most difficult time in my life when I was ready to end my life.”

Miller became an ordained minister in 2003. He was given the “Pastor of Pain” nickname while working in the local media a few years back by local radio personality Phil Kornblut, and it stuck. He has worn many hats since then, working as a motivational speaker, mentoring athletes, as well as different opportunities working in sports media on radio and television. He currently does prison ministry and volunteers at Allen University in Columbia where he does some counseling and chapel services for student-athletes.

“I got outside of my faith through success, and it almost cost me my life, and that’s what I share with people,” Miller said.

Miller is one of eight inductees for the 2022 class of the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame sponsored by the Association of Lettermen and will be officially inducted later this week. Getting the news from Athletics Director Ray Tanner was an emotional experience.

“It was amazing and humbling,” Miller said. “To be in such a rare class of folks is amazing. I grew up a Gamecock fan and love them so much. I was overwhelmed when Ray Tanner called me. I started tearing up. I got in my car, and I had to pull over. I just broke down. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I had been wanting this for a long time. I was overwhelmed, overjoyed, and I feel blessed.”

Originally from Pageland, S.C., Miller earned All-South Independent honors at defensive end in his final two seasons with the Gamecocks, was named South Carolina’s Outstanding Defensive Player in 1989, and was a team captain in 1990. He was selected by the New York Giants in the sixth round of the 1991 NFL draft and spent eight years in the league, finishing his career with the Minnesota Vikings. Looking back, he has many fond memories of being a Gamecock and looks forward to taking his place in the South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame.

“I loved going down to Georgia and beating them (in 1989),” Miller said. “I remember (head coach) Joe Morrison and doing a hundred up-downs for (defensive coordinator) Joe Lee Dunn. One of my greatest memories was my last home game against West Virginia. My parents were there. I lost my mom and dad three years ago, three months apart. I was at Shane Beamer’s event at Williams-Brice Stadium recently, and the table we sat at was at the very same spot where we were standing when my mom and dad came to Columbia to see me play the last time. When I got the news about the Hall of Fame, I wished they could be here to see, but I know they’re smiling from heaven. They were ultra-supportive.

“I’ll always remember ‘2001’ and the fans. I’ve always loved South Carolina, and it means so much to me.”

Miller said he sought and received forgiveness from his ex-wife and is now married to Missy Miller. He has two grown sons, Corey, Jr. and Christian.