It's one thing for Miami Heat wing Mike Miller to even be able to catch and shoot a ball, with the way that both of his thumbs are wrapped up with swelling-reducing braces. It's another to marvel at his game-changing 12 points and nine rebounds in Miami's series-changing Game 4 win from Tuesday night, as we learned Wednesday that he has been playing with a torn tendon in his left thumb that he suffered a month ago. It's yet another to know that he's able to keep his composure and help the Heat move one win away from the finals with the knowledge that his infant daughter is in a hospital room, fighting for her life.
Miller will travel with his team to Chicago to participate in Thursday's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, but for the first time since daughter Jaelyn's birth last Thursday, he'll be away at his job while she recovers from an undisclosed health issue caused by complications from childbirth.
ESPN's Michael Wallace is reporting that, immediately following Miller's hero turn in helping Miami come back in the fourth quarter of Game 4, he went to visit Jaelyn in her hospital room, staying there until 4 in the morning. Miller's struggles have to be a dampening reminder to Heat teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas, as Wallace reports:
[Ilgauskas] and his wife were expecting twins in 2007, when complications arose and both babies were lost after being born four months premature.
"He has a lot on his mind," Ilgauskas said. "You just try to be a good friend right now. He's one of the toughest individuals I've ever been around. He's worked so hard, he's just a blue-collar guy who comes to play every day. But this, this is life."
It is, and it's heartbreaking.
But it's also worth pointing out that, in an entirely less-important world, Miller managed double-figure points on Tuesday for just the second time since mid-March, in a season that has been a constant struggle for him. He knows that things can turn, quickly, for the better. It's slim comfort, now, but it needs to be a comfort never the less.