Northwest D.C. Resident Kari Miller Competes in 2012 Paralympics
The London 2012 Paralympic Games are Aug. 29 through Sept. 9.
D.C. native Kari Miller will compete in the Women's Sitting Volleyball events at the London 2012 Paralympic Games beginning this week.
Playing for Team USA, Miller and her teammates will take on Slovenia in a preliminary round Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. London time. In the U.S. women's second preliminary game, they take on a team from Brazil, Sept. 3 also at 7 p.m.
Thirteen years ago, Miller never would have thought she would one day be a paralympian.
At 22 years old, Kari Miller seemed to have it all. She had just returned to her hometown of Washington, D.C., from a year-long military tour in Bosnia, where she had served as a transportation management coordinator and planned vacations for units that had her enjoying the luxuries of a yacht, she told ESPN.com. Kari learned that she was eligible for officer candidate school and decided it was time to celebrate. After a night out with friends in 1999, Kari was seriously injured when a drunk driver hit her car. Her friend was killed and Kari’s legs had to be amputated in order for her to survive.
"You can cut my legs off, I'll forgive you, just get me out of here,” she remembered telling paramedics, according to ESPN.com.
After her recovery, the military veteran returned to the sport she loved most—basketball—in a wheelchair league, but found it difficult to play against women with nearly a foot in height advantage. Kari was then introduced to sitting volleyball, a game she initially struggled with.
During her first game, she "screamed and dashed out of the way" when the ball came her way, she told ESPN.com. But the naturally athletic veteran figured out the game and tried out for the 2004 U.S. Paralympic Women's Sitting Volleyball team, which she didn’t make.
Eight years later, Kari is considered the world’s best libero, a defender who passes the ball to the setter.
“I am a huge fan of hers because she is one of these individuals that really inspires people and pushes them," John Register, an associate director for the U.S. Paralympics told ESPN.com. "She doesn't let them settle for the status quo – she pushes them on that road and helps them along the way. You can see it when she's teaching and instructing."