by Ari Richman, SDA Communications Intern
(NOTE: Curtis Millage earned his degree from ASU, but has continue to play hoops overseas and made living in various countries.)
Merriam-Webster defines ‘success’ as “getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame” while for some people, reaching success in life may be owning a house in The Hamptons, purchasing the vintage 1967 Mustang that you grew up admiring, or even reaching a certain job status in business.
For former Arizona State Men’s Basketball standout Curtis Millage, achieving success has included a 14-year professional basketball career in Europe and Asia, learning about himself through his motto “Mind, Body and Faith”, and marrying his college sweetheart, Monica.
Millage, from Los Angeles, California, began playing basketball at the age of 14, and by the time his senior year of high school rolled around, he wasn’t recruited by Arizona State or any other Division I school. Upon graduation, Millage attended Los Angeles Southwest Junior College to play for head coach Reggie Morris. Morris had a defining impact on Millage during his tenure on and off the court. On the court, Millage performed well in his first year in junior college: he averaged 19.8 points, 4.3 steals and shot 51 percent from the field, including a stellar 41-point game. During his second year, Morris coached Millage to the Southern California Community College Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2001, while averaging 23 points, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals per game.
Off the court, Morris taught Millage valuable life lessons. “He taught me about life, basketball and how to succeed where you are now…Coach taught me about real life outside of basketball and that life isn’t just about basketball.” Morris emphasized the importance of earning a college degree.
Arizona State recruited Millage out of junior college, and he produced. He finished his two-year career as a Sun Devil eighth in career points (853), tied for seventh in scoring average (14.7), tenth in field goals (301), and seventh in field goal percentage (.732) among two-year Sun Devils. He also averaged 1.6 steals per game in both seasons. During his senior season, Millage was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention. Just as Coach Morris taught him the importance of an education, he graduated with his degree. His interest in the education field came from his mom, who used to run a daycare for elementary kids and inspired him to help children.
Millage has many wonderful memories of his time at Arizona State. “One of my favorite memories at ASU was in 2001 against No. 10 Arizona at home and we beat them by 16 points. The crowd went crazy running on the court lifting me up. I went in there with the right mindset.”
Another top moment for Millage was February 16, 2002 at No. 20 UCLA. Millage was playing in front of his family, which made it feel like a home game. With 13.8 seconds left in the second half, Millage broke a tie with the game-winning three-pointer to give Arizona State the win 69-68.
However, Millage says walk-on Brandon Goldman helped make this all possible. “He spent endless hours helping me through basketball drills whenever he could. He saw the potential in me.” After all the hard work, “I’m so thankful for the fans and Arizona State, who recognized how much hard work I put in and off the court.”
In particular, Millage is thankful to Rob Evans, former Arizona State head coach, for being more than a coach, but also a mentor by teaching him about life outside of basketball.
The next chapter of his life story is still unfolding. For the past 14 years, Millage has played professional basketball in countries across Europe and Asia, including Germany, China, Russia, France, Ukraine, and most recently Estonia. He has received many All-Star honors, led his leagues in assists and steals, and has helped his teams win their league.
The well-traveled and humble Millage lives his life using his motto of “Mind, Body and Faith”, which can apply to anything in life. First, you must have the right mindset in anything, whether it’s working to earn a college degree or making a basketball team. Next, you must take care of your body and your health so you can have the ability to reach your goals. Lastly, and most importantly, you must have faith in yourself in anything you do. Millage wasn’t the best player in high school, but he recognized that if he wanted to play Division I basketball and play professionally, he needed to be one of the hardest workers.
On August 9-10, Millage is hosting a basketball camp that will continue to spread his knowledge and love for the game of basketball at Maricopa High School. The camp is a two-day shootout for kids who don’t play AAU, and who want extra practice with their teams. Millage is hosting this camp to “showcase (the high school players’) talent to colleges…and I want to get my experience out there to help kids become aware that basketball, an education, and more can get you where you want to get.”
From an unrecruited high school senior, to hitting the game-winning shot for Arizona State at No. 20 UCLA in front of his family, to entering his 15th year of professional basketball abroad, Millage has found the secret to success. In short, “off the court, I’m a husband, on the court, I’m a basketball player.” Millage and his wife, Monica, have two children: Caleb, six years old, and Maya, 10 months old. He met his wife in college at Arizona State and she’s “one of the best things that has ever happened to me.” On the court, Millage shows great discipline in what is more difficult for aging basketball players: defense, speed and toughness. These three areas are the focal points to his continued success on the court. The secret ingredient that Millage uses to excel on the court for 14 years is his love of the game.
Millage has surrounded himself with people who will make him a better person, like Reggie Morris, his wife Monica, and former Arizona State basketball player Brandon Goldman. He has provided that helping hand to others, too, and will continue to spread his experience, knowledge, and love of the game at his basketball camp at Maricopa High School.