Racquel & Jamir Miller

“For me, it’s always been family first,” said Racquel Miller. Since she met her husband, Jamir, at a barbecue in Florida in 1994, the couple has created a solid foundation built on family, football and philanthropy.

Jamir enjoyed a 10-year, All-Pro career as a linebacker in the National Football League, playing five years for the Arizona Cardinals and five years for the Cleveland Browns. Early in his career, he established the Jamir Miller Foundation as a way to give back.

The foundation worked to benefit battered women and at-risk youth, first in Arizona and then in Cleveland. (It’s called the Cleveland Foundation today.) “I witnessed a lot of domestic violence,” Jamir said. “Where I grew up in Oakland, it was a frequent occurrence, unfortunately.”

When Jamir retired and the family returned to Arizona, they started the Jamir and Racquel Miller Family Foundation, which is housed at the Arizona Community Foundation. It also benefits at-risk women and children.

Jamir picked the cause because he felt it was a problem that could be tackled. “Domestic violence is something that, through education, can be fixed. But it’s a reeducation process,” he said.

Education is high on the priority list for the Millers, who have three children, Ashlynn, 27, Amara, 24, and Aiden, 18. “If you’re going to give back, you have to be able to give back. So education is key in our house,” Racquel said.

Racquel notes that, in addition to money, it is important to give back with time. She serves on the Heart Ball committee and strutted her stuff in Dancing with the Stars Arizona to support the National Kidney Foundation of Arizona a few years back. She also works with the NFL Alumni Chapter and Off The Field, the NFL wives organization.

When they’re not working — Racquel is a realtor with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty and Jamir invests in businesses — they enjoy time with their family. But as the kids have grown, the Millers recognize their lives will shift in the not-too-distant future. “A lot of our time has been spent on our kids’ endeavors,” Racquel said. “Our traveling has been to dance competitions, soccer, volleyball, those kinds of things. We’ll probably do a lot more traveling after my son goes off to college next year.”

Through all the phases of their decades-long marriage, the Millers have held tight to the tenets of family and doing good. “We feel like no matter where, or what, or how you’re doing, you can still make time to give back,” Racquel said.

Indeed, Jamir thinks this kind of personal charity can start a wave of good that makes a substantial impact. “We should bring a little more love back into our community,” he said. “Putting a little more love toward your neighbor would go a long way.”

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