One look at the resumes of the UFC’s fighting Miller brothers, and there’s no question that when it comes to toughness, middleweight Dan and lightweight Jim have cornered the market on that intangible trait. But then Dan’s son Danny Jr. came into the world on January 6, 2010, and in a little under two years, he’s earned the title of “Toughest Miller.”
“By far,” said his proud papa. “Jim and I have both said it in the past that he’s easily the toughest Miller.”
That’s saying a lot, but Danny has earned his stripes while courageously battling a disease called autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Born with kidneys approximately four times average size, Danny saw the organs shut down when he was just two and a half months old, causing him to be hospitalized for two months. Since then, he has been forced to deal with daily dialysis treatments as well as physical therapy, but he’s also daddy’s boy, something you can hear in Miller’s voice when he talks about his son.
“He spent a lot of time in the hospital on his back, so physically, he’s behind, and he’s not walking or crawling, so it’s not typical,” he said. “But other than that, he’s very, very receptive. You gotta be careful around him because he picks up everything. (Laughs) He’s not speaking yet, but he’s signing, and he knows more signs than I do – I have to ask the nurses what he’s signing. So he’s teaching me.”
And thankfully, a kidney transplant is scheduled for January 25th that will help improve his quality of life moving forward.
“There will be lots of bloodwork and making everything’s working correctly,” said Miller of the immediate aftermath of his son’s kidney transplant operation. “And then as we go on, it’s gonna get easier and easier - less bloodwork, less doctor visits - but with his disease, there’s a lot of other stuff that goes along with it. We’ll always be close to the hospital.”
Through all of this, Dan Miller has not stopped working, fighting six times in the Octagon since the birth of his son against Demian Maia, Michael Bisping, John Salter, Joe Doerksen, Nate Marquardt, and Rousimar Palhares. And to deal with all the stresses of Danny Jr.’s disease, he, his wife Kristin, and daughter Katie have been able to fight on thanks to help from their close knit families.
“We both have wonderful families that are very supportive and always there,” said Miller. “Everyone always helps out. I don’t think we could have gone through it without our families, and the love and support from them.”
On December 3rd at the AMA Fight Club in Whippany, New Jersey, the MMA community will show its support as well, as Miller and his teammates will be holding an all-day seminar and meet and greet with Dan’s brother Jim, UFC welterweight Charlie Brenneman, Ultimate Fighter alum Andy Main, AMA head trainer Mike Constantino, and Muay Thai champion Kaensak Sor Ploenjit all in attendance. There will also be raffles and prize giveaways, with all proceeds going to the Daniel James Miller Foundation, which has been established to offset the costs for Danny Jr.’s treatment that aren’t covered by insurance.
In the meantime, the toughest Miller will keep battling, and after making it this far through so many obstacles, you get the feeling that he’s going to win this fight.”
“He’s gone through way more than all of us combined, and he’s a trooper,” said Miller of Danny Jr. “He’s really strong, and way tougher than I am.”
For more information on the Daniel James Miller Foundation, click here
Photo courtesy of the Miller family
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