Coyotes Renounce Rights to Draft Pick Mitchell Miller Over Abuse of Disabled Black Classmate

Jose Martinez

The Arizona Coyotes have decided to cut ties with their 2020 fourth round pick Mitchell Miller in wake of an exposé detailing his despicable actions towards a former Black classmate with a developmental disability.

Earlier this week, the Arizona Republic published a piece centered around Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, who was abused, assaulted, and called racial slurs by Miller. “In junior high, I got beat up by him. ... Everyone thinks he’s so cool that he gets to go to the NHL, but I don’t see how someone can be cool when you pick on someone your entire life,” Meyer-Crothers told the newspaper.

The most disturbing incident came when Miller and an unnamed student forced Meyer-Crothers to lick a lollipop that they had wiped against a bathroom urinal. Meyer-Crothers then had to undergo tests for HIV, hepatitis, and other STDs. He came back negative.

Miller and the unnamed student were also accused of urinating on candy before giving it to Meyer-Crothers. They were charged with assault and violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act in February 2016. After admitting to their wrongdoings, they were sentenced to 25 hours of community service and were required by the court to write an apology letter to Meyer-Crothers.

His mother Joni said the two admitted to their faults because surveillance footage of the incident exists, and would’ve been shown in a possible trial. "It was absolutely brutal," she said. "Had he not pled guilty, the video would have been released. It would have been so much worse on Mitchell because of the brutality to our son … He's smashing Isaiah's head against a brick wall." She declined to release it now out of respect for Isaiah.

Joni said the unnamed student broke down while apologizing to Isaiah in person. Miller, on the other hand, wrote the court-ordered letter but he never personally apologized. Meyer-Crothers said Miller constantly hit him, and called him “brownie” and the N-word. Other students at their school confirmed that Miller used the racial slur when speaking about Isaiah.

Prior to the draft, Miller tried to get ahead of this incident by writing a letter to every NHL team acknowledging his transgressions and apologizing for his behavior at the time. The Coyotes initially stood by their selection of Miller, arguing that the organization could turn this negative situation into something positive.

“The Arizona Coyotes do not condone any type of bullying behavior. I was unable to participate in this year’s draft but prior to drafting Mitchell Miller, our scouts were made aware of his history and the bullying incident that occurred in 2016 when he was 14 years old," Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said in a statement.

"Mitchell sent a letter to every NHL team acknowledging what happened and apologizing for his behavior. Mitchell made a huge mistake, but we are providing him with a second chance to prove himself. We hope that he uses his platform moving forward to raise awareness about bullying and to discourage this type of behavior.”

Despite claims from the Coyotes organization that they did their background research on Miller, Joni said she never received a call from them. "What they (Coyotes) are saying is what Mitchell did to him didn't matter," she said. "They owe our son an apology. They are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem and they are adding fuel to Black Lives Matter."

The Coyotes sent a copy of the letter Miller claimed to have given the Meyer-Crothers family to the Arizona Republic. Joni said nothing was given to them.

Miller is currently attending the University of North Dakota. He will now become a free agent.

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