Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller shares life lessons with Ekpe Udoh's book club
Gail Miller was always her husband’s partner, in life and in business. But the woman who owns the Utah Jazz says it took her a long time before she felt comfortable stepping out of the shadow of her late husband to become one of the state’s most prominent figures.
In a wide-ranging conversation with Jazz center Ekpe Udoh this week, Miller discussed her book, “Courage to Be You”, her 44-year marriage to Larry H. Miller, her business and philanthropic efforts, how she wants to be remembered, and her personal transformation from shy housewife to confident leader.
“Larry treated me like a partner and gave me a lot of credit for what I did,” Miller said during Udoh’s latest “Author’s Talk” event. “It took me a long time to accept that. But I finally realized he was right.”
Larry Miller infamously worked 90-hour weeks as he built his business empire, a company that now operates in 45 different states. Gail Miller, meanwhile, was busy keeping her family together.
“I worked every bit as hard as he did,” she said. “Nobody counted my hours, though.”
Still, she said, she was missing something. She lacked confidence in herself. When the Millers became owners of the Jazz in 198, Gail Miller was racked by stress at public events.
“I almost had panic attacks because I didn’t want to go out to where all these high-profile people were,” she said.
But through therapy, Miller said, she found her voice.
“I realized I was lonely and I was very shy and I was unsure of myself,” she said. “I realized I was a whole person and I had a voice and I should learn to use it and be confident in myself. … I learned to be more confident and be able to express myself and discover things about myself: that I did have worth and I was more than a housewife and a mother or an appendage to Larry.”
Since Larry Miller’s death in 2009, Gail has continued to grow the family’s company and has taken the lead on a number of humanitarian efforts involving homelessness and education.
“I would like to be remembered as a kind person who cared about others,” she said. “That’s important to me. That’s really where my heart is.”