1 of 2
Michael Brandy, Deseret News
Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz chats with the team's owner, Larry H. Miller, before a preseason game at EnergySolutions Arena in October 2007.

For years, Larry H. Miller has neglected his health.

"And now he's paying the price for it," Miller's oldest son, Greg Miller, said Monday.

Miller, 64-year-old owner of the NBA's Utah Jazz and one of the state's most influential business magnates, is hospitalized with complications from type 2 diabetes.

A statement released by the team Monday said that "according to his doctors and family, Miller is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery."

A Jazz spokeswoman, however, said Miller himself would neither confirm nor deny that the complications involved a heart attack and/or heart issues. Greg Miller also would not comment when asked specifically about a heart attack, though he did indicate his father had not suffered a stroke.

"He was conversant, he was coherent," Greg Miller said of a Monday visit with his father, who was taken to an undisclosed hospital on June 10 and quietly has remained there since.

"He was very tired," Greg Miller added during a conference call with reporters, "but, aside from that, the thing I was most encouraged by ... (is his primary care physician) said the good news here is we're talking about recovery and not a funeral."

Type 2 diabetes — the disease's most-common form — involves either the body not producing enough insulin, which is necessary for cells to use glucose for energy, or cells ignoring the insulin.

According to the American Diabetes Association's Web site, complications can include heart disease, blindness, nerve damage and kidney damage.

Miller evidently has had diabetes for several years, but kept it secret from even close family members for some time.

"I'm sure he had it for a number of years before he acknowledged it to himself," Greg Miller said.

No timetable for release from the hospital has been set, but franchise officials are optimistic he'll soon return to work in at least some capacity, perhaps even later this week.

"He sounds great," said Jazz communications vice president Linda Luchetti, who spoke to Miller on Monday. "He said, 'I don't want people to think this is bigger than it is, because I'm fine."'

"They're just kind of taking it one day at a time, and seeing how his body adjusts to the different medicines or treatments they're giving him," Greg Miller said.

Greg Miller — 42 years old, and heir apparent to the Miller empire, including control of the Jazz — suggested he actually hopes his father's stay in the hospital is longer rather than shorter.

"I'd really like to just lock him up there," he said jokingly.

"I really hope that he'll listen to this," Greg Miller added with all seriousness, "and give his body a chance to recuperate and take whatever steps are deemed to be necessary to get him into a situation where this doesn't happen again."

But Greg Miller knows Larry H. Miller, and he senses his father already is anxious to get back to the office.

"I think Larry will be the one to decide (how long he remains hospitalized)," he said. "He's going to do what he wants to do anyway."

On Monday morning, in fact, Miller — a former world-class fastpitch softball pitcher, and an amateur race-car driver — was working from his hospital bed, signing important real estate acquisition-related paperwork.

It's that very drive that landed Miller where he is today — ridiculously wealthy, but not completely healthy, and ailing to the point that family members have discussed if he should continue working at all.

"He's the kind of guy who always put the cause first, whether it's Jazz-related or closing a deal or helping somebody else," Greg Miller said of his father, who also created Larry H. Miller Charities — a nonprofit foundation, and the charitable arm of his many companies. "And, in my observation, he's always put the issue ahead of his own well-being."

Miller fell ill early last week, and after a June 10 visit to a doctor — his health obviously deteriorating — wife Gail took him to the hospital.

"He just hadn't been feeling well," Greg Miller said. "A few days before he went into the hospital, he felt like he was just running out of gas."

But Larry H. Miller hasn't looked well for some time now, and Greg Miller suggested that's obvious to anyone who attended a Jazz game in the past year or so.

Miller would walk gingerly from his courtside seat to the Jazz locker room at halftime, his feet apparently affected by nerve damage that often accompanies diabetes. And he's frequently worn eyeglasses with colored lenses while indoors, another nod to personal medical matters.

"He's not exactly a picture of health," Greg Miller said.

"I think he'd like to get himself to a place where he's as healthy as can be and that's going to take changes."

How much his lifestyle indeed is altered, however, remains to be seen.

"His reason for getting out of bed in the morning is to give the battles that work represents," Greg Miller said. "I don't see this event changing the way he prioritizes his workload."

That includes overseeing the Jazz.

"If there's an imminent trade that (general manager) Kevin O'Connor needs Larry's input on," Greg Miller said, "then Larry will drop what he's doing to deal with that."

The Miller family, Greg Miller said, has addressed whether Larry H. Miller would be "better off to just step back and remove himself completely from the operations, or would that put him in a worse place?"

Greg Miller is the eldest of five Miller children, including four sons all employed within the family empire.

"I think we all concluded he's better off working," Greg said, "because he loves to work so much."

While Larry recovers, his son also said it's "business as usual" for all of his many and varied ventures.

"The good news there," he said, "is we are blessed with a wealth of very talented and hard-working employees."

Besides the Jazz and numerous automobile dealerships, which represent his primary holdings, Miller also owns baseball's minor-league Salt Lake Bees, Triple-A affiliate for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; Miller Motorsports Park, a road course-style auto and motorcycle race track in Tooele County; EnergySolutions Arena, downtown Salt Lake City's home of the Jazz; KJZZ-TV; and the Jordan Commons entertainment complex in Sandy, which is one among many holdings in the Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment Group of Companies.

His net worth has been estimated by various sources in the past two years to be in the $480 million to $490 million range, and his various enterprises — which started with a car lot in 1979 — employ more than 6,500 people full time and part time.

Miller purchased half of the Jazz in 1985, and the remainder of the franchise — which has twice made it to the NBA Finals — in 1986.

Unconfirmed rumor of his hospitalization spread Sunday, but many close to the owner — including Jazz point guard Deron Williams, and other Jazz players — didn't learn of his situation until Monday.

"I hope everything is well with him," Williams said. "He means so much to our team, and Salt Lake City in general."


Contributing: Dick Harmon


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com