Master P stays in the background as son Mercy Miller shows his basketball potential

Percy Miller, also known as rapper Master P, is 53 years old. He’s enjoyed great success as a musician, businessman, entrepreneur, songwriter, record producer and, briefly, pro basketball player.

Few things, though, give him more joy these days than watching his son, Mercy, play basketball for Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. Committed to Houston, the 6-foot-4 senior is averaging 30 points and 11 rebounds for the 15-0 Knights.

"It's definitely a great experience and makes my dad happy," Mercy said.

Added Percy: “It’s so good to be able to enjoy the moment with him and enjoy it as a parent."

Incredibly, on Saturday, it will be Mercy, not Percy, who becomes the first member of the Miller family to provide entertainment at Arena. Mercy is playing for Notre Dame against De La Salle in the nightcap of the Coastal Catholic Classic. Percy said he has never performed a concert there, because a proposed appearance with Snoop Dogg was canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The one-day event features six games, including a Trinity League battle between St. John Bosco and Mater Dei at 6 p.m. Fans can watch early games, leave and return later with a single ticket.

So much has changed since Percy Miller's first go-around as a basketball parent.

“The world has changed since the Windward days,” he said.

It was nearly 20 years ago when Miller’s son Romeo was one of the most well-known teenagers in Los Angeles while playing basketball for Windward. He had his own TV program on Nickelodeon and was making music as Lil Romeo. One of his teammates in 2005-06 was Malcolm Washington, the son of actor Denzel Washington. This was before Twitter but paparazzi were out en force, so you can imagine the attention.

“We were the bodyguards,” former Windward coach Miguel Villegas said of he and his assistants.

He remembers having to hustle out Romeo from the backdoor of a gym after a playoff game to escape the many autograph seekers.

Percy was in his 30s and called a “passionate” father by Villegas. That’s a nice way to say he was very much involved in the team’s activities, offering opinions and guiding his son.

Percy said he has changed. Parents mature like kids.

Master P poses in sunglasses and a checkered suit against a gray background.
Percy Miller, known as Master P. (Jordan Strauss / Jordan Strauss/invision/ap)

“I don’t deal with coaches no more,” he said. “I stay in the background.”

Notre Dame coach Matt Sargeant confirms that, saying, “One of the best parent-coach experiences I’ve had. Loves the school for what it is and lets me coach his kid.”

Percy said of his Windward days, “My other son was so famous I had to be in the mix so they didn’t take advantage.”

Romeo would end up playing for USC and continues in the music business.

Mercy, however, is focused on basketball, not music.

Watching Mercy develop into one of the nation’s best basketball players has been a journey his father appreciates every day.

“Mercy started playing basketball as a 3-year-old,” he said. “He loves it. He doesn’t care about rankings. We don’t care what number he is. He just loves the game. He tells me he wants to be the best basketball player in the world. He gets up at 5 a.m. and gets me up to take him to the gym.”

The truth, though, is Mercy wants to play in the McDonald's All-American game. He's hoping his performances will convince the voters he deserves an invite.

Mercy won a state championship playing for Minnehaha Academy in Minnesota, where NBA players Chet Holmgren and Jalen Suggs had performed. He transferred to Oak Hill in Virginia in January 2022, then returned to Southern California last season to win a state Division 1 title with Notre Dame.

“He wanted to come back home and play,” Percy said. “It’s a blessing to be home. My son gets up every morning with a purpose.”

He's enjoying more of a regular high school experience. The previous two schools had enrollments of 300 and 80 students, respectively. Notre Dame is close to 1,300.

His dad has grown up, recognizing his role is to be supportive but not intervene.

“I just go to games as a parent,” he said. “I can’t wait to see the next couple of years what the journey and path God has in store for him.”

Said Mercy: "He's never been one to scream too much and is letting me find my game. He's there to support me whenever I need it."

Such as 5 a.m. drives to the gym?

"He's a good driver," Mercy said.

Any suggestions for other parents, Master P?

“My message to every parent, ‘Stay in the background, support the kid and enjoy the journey.’”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.