Romeo in Love
Movies can wait; hoop is Li'l Romeo's main focus
Posted: Wednesday March 21, 2007 5:06PM; Updated: Thursday March 22, 2007 11:12AM
With apologies to William Shakespeare, Beverly Hills (Calif.) junior Romeo Miller has not yet found his Juliet, but he has embraced his first love.
Though the 17-year-old could be living through reruns of his hit Nickelodeon TV show, appropriately named, Romeo, which ran for 53 episodes and now continues on in syndication, he is not. He could also be playing a starring role in any number of other places, like on a movie set or in a music studio with his father, Percy "Master P" Miller -- who is an acclaimed rapper, producer and entertainment leader -- but he is not. Choosing instead to pass up a movie role and push back an album in order to spend more one-on-one time with his basketball Jones, the Renaissance man devotes most of his time these days to training in high school gyms.
"He's really quick and we haven't had a point guard at Beverly Hills who could break down a defense the way he does," Beverly Hills coach Luis Turcios says. "He got better as the year went along and he was solid throughout. I was really surprised how coachable he was. He took criticism well and that helped him improve."
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound point guard averaged 13.9 points, 5.6 assists and 2.7 steals this season for Beverly Hills, which finished with a 14-12 record in Division I competition. He also shot 43 percent from three-point range and 81 percent from the free-throw line.
"My dad calls me Super Baby because I had to teach myself everything," says Miller, who was born in New Orleans and is one of seven children. "He has played a big part in my life. He was my YMCA and flag football coach and still my travel-team coach. He always pushes me to the limit. Now I have to train everybody else. The girls are more into acting and boys into basketball."
One of Miller's favorite possessions is a picture of him at age two posing with a little basketball goal in his hand. "Basketball always has been my main passion and it keeps me going," says Miller. "Everybody in my family played basketball and we've all been blessed with ability."
Despite his early fame in the entertainment field, Miller is a student of his craft, currently serving an apprenticeship under one of the NBA's all-time great point guards, Tiny Archibald. "I feel privileged and honored to work with him," Miller says.
Having played organized basketball since age six -- usually playing with older players, Miller's game has grown as he has. "I always was the fastest and had a big heart," he says. "Back then I was known as a scorer. Later I became more of a team leader. I liked getting more people involved."
The Millers moved to California in 2001 and two years later Romeo enjoyed the company of starlet Jessica Alba on the set of the movie Honey ("She was like a sister to me," he says. "She taught me a lot of things. We played basketball a lot. I let her win one game.") and dunked for the first on a hoop at his home while a freshman at Windward High in Los Angeles ("I went crazy," he says. "I went in the house and wrote on my wall. I called everybody.")
Because of his budding music/film career, he was home schooled off and on as his entertainment career took off, eventually leading to his transfer to Beverly Hills as a junior "to play better competition." Miller played one game, then was forced to sit out five -- all losses -- while his transcript was being checked.
Turcios believes Beverly Hills is a good fit for his young star because children of famous people often go there. "They just treat him like any other kid," he says. "He has a little bit of flash, but he's very funny and has a great attitude."
Miller's game landed him on high school's top talent evaluation stage at the ABCD camp last year, and he has already received an invitation to play at Steve Nash's point guard camp this summer. All the while, Romeo's celebrity status causes the most stir when the Normans are playing away from home. "Girls are something we have to deal with," Turcios says.
Valley Southwoods (West Des Moines, Iowa) freshman Shawn Johnson won the all-around championship and the USA captured the team championship against Great Britain during a gymnastics meet over the weekend in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. Johnson scored 60.150 points to lead a USA sweep of the top seven places. She also won the balance beam with a score of 16.050.
Jereme Richmond, the No. 1 freshman basketball player in Illinois, averaged 30.7 points, 14.1 rebounds, 5.6 blocks and shot 83 percent from the free throw line this year for North Shore Country Day. The 6-6 standout, who lives in Waukegan, will attend the University of Illinois.
Mission Prep (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) distance star Jordan Hasay broke her own national sophomore record last week by winning the 3,200-meter run in 10:04.07 at the Camarillo Distance Classic. Hasay announced earlier that she will not participate in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mambasa, Kenya.
O.J. Mayo went out in a blaze of glory last Saturday while leading Huntington to a record third consecutive West Virginia Class AAA state basketball title. The 6-5 USC signee had 41 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in a 103-61 rout of South Charleston. Late in the game he threw a long pass off the backboard, swooped in and dunked the rebound. With the crowd of 10,080 going crazy he then heaved the ball 25 rows deep into the stands. Nobody seemed to be bothered by the technical foul, because he received a standing ovation. He later gave one of his shoes away as a souvenir.
Malik Story, a standout junior guard at Artesia (Lakewood, Calif.), announced over the weekend that he will attend Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) next fall. Story will join former Dominguez (Compton, Calif.) star Brandon Jennings for their senior year, then both will attend USC.