Gridiron Glory to Community Unity: The Suite Journey of Chuckie Miller

Gridiron Glory to Community Unity: The Suite Journey of Chuckie Miller
PHOTO BY CHUCKIE MILLER

Many former athletes are using their past athletic experiences to fuel their business passion. One of those happens to be a gentleman I met years ago by the name of Chuckie Miller. I initially met Miller while I was a poet on a comedy tour led by the late great Comedian/Actor Ricky Harris (1962-2016), who grew up with Miller in the city of Long Beach, California. The way Ricky’s eyes lit up when Miller walked into the room, I knew he had to be of monumental importance.

So, who is Chuckie Miller? Born Charles Elliot Miller, May 9, 1965, in Anniston, Alabama, “Chuckie” is a former American football player who played high school football at the historic Long Beach Polytechnic High School before having a collegiate career at UCLA (83’- 87’) and being drafted to the National Football League (NFL) by the Indianapolis Colts in the Spring of 1987. Miller spent two seasons with the Colts and ended his career in 1990. Many assume that at the end of a player's career, their lives become an afterthought as they assimilate back into their communities after being celebrated at such a high level.  Miller’s story happens to be the exact opposite.

Though his passion developed on the field, once retired, his mission was to immediately begin giving back to thousands of athletes in the SoCal region by building his gym called “Better Bodies” in Signal Hill, California. Miller assisted many young adolescents with creating their desire to reach the next level. He also had the opportunity to help with training greats like 3x Super Bowl Champion Willie McGinest (USC, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns), 1991 Offensive Rookie of the Year Leonard Russell (New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers), and over 68 other players who eventually made it to the NFL.

When asked why he gives back so much, his reply was simple. “I just feel like with giving back, you get so much from it,” said Miller. “If you have a closed fist, nothing goes out, and nothing comes in.” That philosophy not only holds for his athletic mentorships as he also uses that same methodology with his bar, Long Beach Unified Bar & Lounge, located at 2222 East Anaheim Street in Long Beach, California. When referencing his bar, you could feel Chuckie’s energy radiate through the phone. He described it as a “community-oriented space where people of all colors could come together to relax and enjoy each other.” Miller adds, “It’s about unifying the community, and I mean all races.”

“Playing sports taught me how to be universal and know how to get along with people from all backgrounds.” Miller went on to share how he uses his bar space to assist the community with fundraisers, often matching proceeds and donating to those who choose to make Long Beach Unified their place of celebration. Another clear example is that his business is not for personal growth alone. Miller reiterated one of his reasons for giving back: "I’m going to make money regardless; why not give others the opportunity to have a space where they can bring people together and raise funds or awareness to causes that need the attention and energy.”

As we winded down our interview, several things were very clear about Mr. Miller. The first thing that came to mind is that he is more than an athlete. He is a man of passion who has used his athletic journey to build a life for himself that allows him to unite people. As a former athlete, I’ve always admired men who can use their past to create their future without leaning on it in every conversational piece in their present life. Yes, Chuckie Miller is a former NFL player. Still, I’m willing to bet that the man he has become since he played his last game, decades ago, may give him just as much gratification as he continues to bring people together through his gym, Better Bodies, and his bar, Long Beach Unified Bar & Lounge.

Chuckie Miller, our Suite Life SoCal team, salutes you and wishes you the best on your journey to inspire. Your ability to use your story to motivate others through fitness, friendship, and fundraising is truly one of a kind, and if you’re ever in need of a new Vodka to join your bar menu, give me a call; I know a guy, lol.

Here are some upcoming events you can catch at Long Beach Unified Bar & Lounge:

  • Soul Food Sundays Every Sunday from 3 pm-until
  • R & B Life Sundays 6 pm - 12 pm
  • Tacos & Tequila Tuesday 6 pm - 12 pm
  • First Fridays Every 1st Friday of the Month
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