Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, the victim of racist bullying by Mitchell Miller, says he hasn't seen proof that the NHL prospect has changed his ways.
In a statement released Wednesday by the Hockey Diversity Alliance, Meyer-Crothers, who is Black and has developmental disabilities, said Miller reached out by text to apologize and to say he was doing community work to help youth.
"I told him, 'That's all cool but where is the proof though?' He didn't give me any (proof)," Meyer-Crothers said.
"All the lies I have been told from him for so many years I don't believe what Mitchell told me."
The statement comes days after the Boston Bruins rescinded its entry-level contract offer to Miller, who was originally selected by Arizona in the fourth round of the 2020 draft.
Bruins President Cam Neely said Monday the team “dropped the ball" with its internal vetting of the defenceman.
Boston signed Miller to an entry-level contract on Friday, leading to sweeping criticism from Bruins players from captain Patrice Bergeron on down, as well as Boston’s fan base.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also weighed in, saying Miller would not currently be eligible to play in the league without major changes.
The offer to Miller was rescinded late Sunday, with Neely saying in a statement the Bruins thought Miller's conduct was an isolated incident and that the team reversed course based on new information — particularly that the team hadn't spoken to Meyer-Crothers or his family.
In 2016, at age 14, Miller pleaded guilty to one count of assault and one count of violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act. He and another teenager were accused of making Meyer-Crothers eat a candy push pop after wiping it in a bathroom urinal, and surveillance video showed them kicking and punching him.
Meyer-Crothers said the abuse went on for years.
"Mitchell used to ask me to sit with him on the bus and then he and his friends would punch me in the head," Meyer-Crothers said. "This happened my whole time in school.
"When I went to junior high Mitchell would spit in my face and call me a 'N word.' I stopped telling because they called me a snitch and I would get made fun of."
Meyer-Crothers said Miller's friends continued the bullying once Miller was expelled from school.
“Everyone thought he was cool, but I don't see how someone can be cool when you pick on someone and bully someone your entire life," Meyer-Crothers said.
Meyer-Crothers said he has recently received racist and abusive messages on social media.
"Mitchell isn't my friend. It hurts my heart what he did to me," he said. "So I just wanted to tell everyone — when Mitchell says we're friends it isn't true.
"I can't take more of this."
Before being drafted by Arizona, Miller sent a letter to all 31 NHL teams acknowledging what happened and apologizing for his behaviour. Meyer-Crothers' mother Joni told The Arizona Republic that Miller never personally apologized to Isaiah or their family other than a court-mandated letter.
“When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely,” Miller said in a statement. “I bullied one of my classmates. I deeply regret the incident and have apologized to the individual. Since the incident, I have come to better understand the far-reaching consequences of my actions that I failed to recognize and understand nearly seven years ago."
The Coyotes picked Miller in the fourth round of the 2020 draft despite knowing of his 2016 assault conviction. The team parted ways with Miller amid criticism after learning more about his bullying of Meyer-Crothers.
— With files from The Associated Press.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2022.
The Canadian Press