Billy Mills

Billy  Mills

Billy Mills was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He was orphaned by the age of 12 and sent to boarding schools, graduating from Haskell Indian School. Billy became involved in distance running and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Kansas where he made All-American seven times. Upon graduation, Billy was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps and continued training for the Olympics. In 1964, he made the U. S. Olympic team in two events, the marathon and the 10,000-meter run. That year, the world saw the greatest upset in Olympic history unfold as Billy took the gold medal in Tokyo in the 10,000- meter run. The motion picture, Running Brave, was made about Billy’s life.


Today Billy is an accomplished businessman, author, and national spokesperson for Christian Relief Services and Running Strong for American Indian Youth. He has received five honorary doctorates, and is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Citation, the highest honor that the University of Kansas Alumni Association can bestow upon an individual to acknowledge outstanding achievement for the betterment of mankind. In 1999 Billy was chosen as Sports Illustrated’s Athlete of the Century for the state of South Dakota, and in 2013 President Obama awarded Billy with the second highest honor awarded to a civilian, the Presidential Citizens Medal. Earlier this year, the National Collegiate Athletic Association presented Billy with the Teddy Roosevelt Award, the highest award given to an individual.