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Curry Kirkpatrick
November 20, 1985
As she kicks off her fourth college season, USC's Cheryl Miller is a big star in a town that has a lot of them
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November 20, 1985

Lights! Camera! Cheryl!

As she kicks off her fourth college season, USC's Cheryl Miller is a big star in a town that has a lot of them

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For a long time Reggie, a year younger, was shorter and slimmer than Cheryl. Initially Saul had his youngest son out on the court only as a guinea pig for Cheryl's girls team. Then Reggie started draining everything from 20 feet. Then he grew up. Cheryl calls Reggie "Red" from "Reddie" when she couldn't pronounce her Gs. They have been about as close as siblings can be ever since the time Cheryl would take Reggie apart one-on-one. She remembers the precise moment that stopped.

"I woke Reggie one day and asked if he was ready for another ass kicking," Cheryl says. "When he got up, he kept getting up. And up and up. All of a sudden he was 6'6". We went outside for our usual head-to-head game. I took first outs, blew by him like always and sailed in for the layup. As I was running under the basket I heard this noise. Clang. I looked up and the ball was still up there. So was Reggie. He had pinned it. I stopped in my tracks. 'Uh, Red,' I said, 'How about a game of H-O-R-S-E?' "

Here is the price Reggie pays for Cheryl's fame. On the Jan. 26, 1982 night he scored 39 points for the Poly High varsity boys, his sister outscored him by 66. "Hey, nobody remembers that part," says Saul, sounding like a fight manager. "We set a national brother-sister record."

As a freshman at UCLA, Reggie languished on the bench for Bruin coach Larry Farmer, who preferred upperclassmen and frowned on his long-distance bombing. Last season Miller blossomed under Walt Hazzard, who obviously gave him a green light from anywhere this side of Encino. Early on during the UCLA doldrums, however, this magazine ran a story on the Bruins that included a picture caption reading, "Miller has the distinction of being the first Bruin ever who can't outplay his sister." Whoops.

"After that one we called a family meeting, because Reggie was upset and so were we," Saul says. Cheryl was here. Darrell came. He's the enforcer. Everyone supports everyone else in this family. We reminded Reggie that everything Cheryl has become, he helped her get that way. We closed ranks. We also told him to start hitting the boards. From then on he played like gangbusters. See, we believe Reggie made Cheryl and Cheryl made Reggie."

And they did, too. Cheryl corrected a shooting flaw only after Reggie pointed out she was releasing the ball too far behind her head. Cheryl in turn did everything but gouge out Reggie's eyes and kick his privates while helping him get nasty under the boards.

Heart is where the home is. A blue UCLA is painted on the backyard court along with a red USC. Mom and Dad battle freeway traffic and drive the 60-plus miles from Riverside to Los Angeles as often as four days a week for the privilege of catching their offspring's games. Sometimes they bring weeks' supplies of home-cooked meals for Cheryl, who (USC lacking a women's training table) otherwise forages on licorice, Twinkies and the like.

Reggie may forever remain the brother of but he has never shown chagrin. "I don't know anybody who could have handled this situation like Reggie has," Cheryl says. "He's always been supportive. If my game is going bad he's always there. At halftime he comes down and makes suggestions. We are each other's biggest fans."

The night USC won its second national title, NCAA officials tried to remove one maniac who had run out on the floor and was about to squeeze the air out of Cheryl. It was Reggie. The two root vociferously for each other even when their schools clash. Once, at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus Reggie was jokingly asked by a Bruin official to move to the USC cheering section. "Blood is thicker than water," Cheryl says.

Somebody once asked her to list her most memorable moments. Miller said they were USC's first national title, the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, winning the gold medal and watching her brother overcome adversity last year. And you thought The Cosby Show was sweet.

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