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Eric Woodyard, Deseret News
Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller was presented with the Rosa Parks Award at the 34th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Luncheon in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018.
As I thought about her, and about this award, there were two words that came in my mind and they are ‘I can. —Gail Miller

SALT LAKE CITY — Gail Miller is more than just the widow of late Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller.

She’s a strong woman who stands on her own two feet and the Utah community is certainly thankful for her courage and kind acts in the area for many years.

The current Jazz owner and billionaire businesswoman was the recipient of the Rosa Parks Award Monday during the 34th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon on MLK Day in Ballroom Salon A at Little America Hotel. At least 500 people were in attendance for the event, hosted by the NAACP Salt Lake Branch.

“I remember being a young girl and being impressed by Rosa Parks and her courage,” Miller told the room. “As I thought about her, and about this award, there were two words that came in my mind and they are ‘I can.’

“I think all of us can,” she added. “It’s important that we keep those words in our vocabulary daily and remember that they’re just small words but they can make a huge difference in our lives and in the lives of all of those around us that we interact with.”

The Rosa Parks Award was established in 1992 in honor of the civil rights icon and annually honors women in Utah who help “Keep the Dream Alive.” Miller supports various charitable, education and humanitarian causes through the Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation where she routinely volunteers her free time for those in need.

Miller delivered an emotional and heartfelt speech after accepting the honor from Jeanetta Williams, President of the Salt Lake City chapter of the NAACP.

“I can share what I have with others,” Miller said, fighting back tears. “I am not alone in this world and I am not any better than anyone else. What I have can be multiplied with those around me.”

The NAACP frequently looks to the Miller family to see what they are doing in the community because they are always at the forefront of making a change, according to Williams. Miller’s busy schedule is why she wasn’t recognized sooner.

“We’re very happy that Gail is here and receiving the award for all of her community work and her service,” Williams said. She’s been doing a lot before, behind the scenes, but after Larry passed she’s been more out front, doing a lot of things in the community and people see her and associate her with the Larry H. Miller foundations and all the companies and her willingness to help.

“She’s been a pillar in our community.”

Judge Shauna Graves-Robertson was also honored with the Civil Rights Award, Dr. Nicole M. Ford-Francis was the keynote speaker, and Jazz great Thurl Bailey helped present Salt Lake Center for Science Education Center senior Kamaria Smith with the Utah Jazz Scholarship for $3,000.

“I’ve been in this community for 30-plus years now and I don’t know many greater examples of love and service than Gail Miller,” Bailey said. “Thank you, Gail.”