Growing Pains

Florida State quarterback Chris Rix is living with the family of his pastor, former FSU basketball player Ron Miller. The Miller family includes a 3-year-old son and an infant. The arrangement has been approved by the NCAA. Of course, Rix has been in the news again for his poor choices in parking spots. Click here to read how Miller hopes to have a positive impact on Rix even during the difficult times. "I try to first evaluate where his heart's at," Miller said.

As pastor at Tallahassee Morning Star International, Ron Miller offers guidance and support on a daily basis. One of his goals is also to help inspire men and women to become effective Christian leaders in every sphere of life.

When at home, Miller relaxes with wife Cindy, also a pastor at Morning Star, and their two sons -- 3-year-old Josiah and 7-month-old Ethan.

Many nights they are joined in discussion and prayer by Florida State quarterback Chris Rix, who, without a roommate the past two years, recently moved in with the Miller family.

"It has been neat for him and neat for us," Miller told TheTerritory Wednesday.

"You don't do something like this unless you have a real relationship. It's a sacrifice. He's like family to us and we're like family to him. He's a tremendous guy."

The highly-publicized arrangement has been approved by the NCAA. Rix pays rent -- about the same he paid before the move -- and he eats his main meals on campus. Miller, a former FSU basketball player, has been a confidant for Rix the past few years.

Of course, Rix's accomplishments at FSU have been oft-mirrored by his struggles. Such has been the case the past week.

The ink was barely dry from Rix's record-setting performance in Saturday's victory over Colorado -- he threw for a career-high 394 yards and now has more yards of total offense (1,100) than the Seminoles' first four opponents combined (1,007) -- when he was engulfed in his latest controversy.

Rix was ticketed again Tuesday for a parking violation, this time for leaving his vehicle in a spot reserved for patients at the school's regional rehabilitation center, university police said. Rix was ticketed last week for parking in a handicapped-only spot and was fined $100.

Both stories were reported by The Associated Press and circulated nationally by newspapers and the internet.

While Miller defends Rix's integrity and character, he admits Rix also needs to be held accountable for his actions. Of course, Rix's decisions -- good and bad -- are played out before the adoring/scolding public.

"I try to first evaluate where his heart's at," Miller said.

"From there, okay, what's the lesson to learn from this. To make sure he's learning his lesson in the right kind of way. The thing about Chris is he wants to do the right thing. He recognizes when he makes a mistake and does everything he can possibly do to make it right. That's all you can ask for in a person. But his mistakes go before the public eye. We try to tell him and remind him to use wisdom in his decision making.

"He's very bummed. Again, he recognizes where he made a mistake. Sometimes he feels like it gets blown out of proportion and it gets magnified because of who he is. But again, that's part of the territory of being a quarterback at FSU. It doesn't make it right but that's the reality we live in. I think he's learning that more and more but, unfortunately, it's going to come after incidents (like this)."

Rix's collegiate career has been closely scrutinized by media and fans alike. His tremendous talent may never fully be appreciated simply due to the controversy he creates for himself at times.

The personable Miller, who has a keen eye for honesty, has not lost faith in Rix's potential as a person and athlete. Each day the two share this motto: "Your decisions determine your destiny."

"I wish I was half as moral as he was as a junior in college," Miller said.

"Really, he's someone I think that any father would be glad to call their son. I am proud of who he is and who he is trying to be. Again, he's a sincere kid, he's a very emotional guy, he's a very sentimental guy. He's a Florida State quarterback but the kid inside of him is a Florida State fan as much as anybody else. Sometimes that might get portrayed like he's trying to draw attention to himself. That's not what he's trying to do at all. He considers it a great honor to play for the university and a great honor to play for coach Bowden. But he makes mistakes like we all do."

And, like with any family, the key is to live and learn, in good and bad times.

Miller said it was an easy decision to invite Rix into his family's life.

"Last year, knowing he was going through some of his personal struggles. … being a former athlete myself and remembering the environment that we used to live in, it was real tough getting the proper rest and staying on the proper schedule and stuff like that," Miller said.

"Him being magnified ten-fold, you could just tell it was affecting him being able to get to sleep. It was affecting his time management. I thought, hey, if I could get him in an environment where he could unwind at night, he could have a place to process things, he could have a place to get refreshed and refocused for the next day. And, you know, have someone maybe to just bounce things off of with everything he goes through in living in that fish bowl-world that he lives in.

"Honestly, he makes it a real joy simply because of the person that he is. It's who he is. The way he helps with the children and his influence. His friendship. His attitude. He's a real joy to have in the house."


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