Billy Mills Biography


 Billy Mills BiographyClaim to Fame: Olympic Runner
DOB:  June 30, 1938
Diabetes Type: 2

Born into poverty and orphaned at a young age, Billy Mills learned the value of self-confidence and personal strength early on. A member of the Oglala Lakota tribe, Mills was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation by his grandmother and took up running as a form of meditation. Mills attended the Haskill Institute, a Native American boarding school in Lawrence, Kansas, where he discovered his talent for distance running and broke many of the school's records. 

After high school, Billy went on to attend the University of Kansas on an athletic scholarship. While in college, Billy was named an NCAA All-American cross-country runner three times, and was also awarded an individual title in the Big Eight cross-country championship.  Not only an athlete, Billy graduated from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education.

Following college, Billy entered the Marine Corps and held the post of lieutenant. Mills focused most of his attention on his career, allowing his running talent to go dormant. However, always the athlete, Billy quickly returned to his running and, with the same prowess and determination he possessed in college, trained in order to post times that would qualify him for the Olympics.  After a little over a year, Billy made the times that qualified him to run two events for the 1964 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team.

During the Olympic games in Tokyo, Billy proved to be a dark horse. He was largely overshadowed by his competitors, yet he was making times that revealed him to be a true threat.  Billy was set to compete in two events; the marathon and the 10,000-meter — an event that no American had ever won before. Though it may have seemed like a daunting task, Billy won the gold medal in the 10K with a time of 28:24.4, which was 50 seconds faster than his qualifying time! To this day, Billy remains the only American to have won a gold medal in the 10K.

Following the Olympics, Billy set the world record in the six-mile run for the Association of American Universities championships. Mills stayed with the Marine's until he began work for the Department of the Interior. Mills later became a public speaker, delivering messages of hope, strength and perseverance.

In 2003, Billy learned that he had type 2 diabetes. What could have been an overwhelming blow in the life of such an accomplished athlete became another example of his unyielding spirit and courage. Billy has incorporated his experience with diabetes into his speeches, sharing with the world a voice of optimism and encouragement in regards to the importance of emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

Find out more about Billy Mills and his inspiring triumphs over diabetes.

Find more athletes with diabetes.

Last Modified Date: February 21, 2013

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by Brenda Bell
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