JUMP: My Secret Journey from the Streets to the Boardroom by Larry Miller with his daughter, Laila Lacy, the Chairman of the Jordan brand, details his story as one of the most successful African-American businessmen in the country. It’s the epitome of the American Dream since Miller managed to thrive despite having grown up in extremely violent and gang-ridden west Philadelphia in the 1960s to the highest levels of the American sporting industry.
JUMP is Miller’s personal story of having shot another teenager when he was sixteen-years-old and then taking advantage of having a second chance in the form of an incarceration program that no longer exists today. It gave select incarcerated individuals the opportunity to go to school every day and then come back. It allowed Larry to earn his Associate’s and then his Bachelor’s degree from Temple University, and thus established the foundation for him to land a series of corporate jobs. He lost his first corporate opportunity after he revealed his rough, gangland past. After, he learned it would probably work to his professional advantage to keep his past in the past. By doing so, he climbed the ranks at corporations ranging from Kraft Foods to Campbell’s Soup, Jantzen, and Portland’s Trail Blazers NBA team until he landed his big break at Nike, running their domestic apparel operations. The stars really aligned for Miller because once Michael Jordan retired from basketball, Nike Founder and Chairman, Phil Knight, appointed Miller the President of the then-nascent Jordan brand. He grew the Jordan brand from a $200 million sneaker company to a $4 billion international apparel company.
As he excelled at his career, Miller also contended with severe migraines and nightmares that stemmed from the fear of being found out, as well as guilt. In fact, those migraines and nightmares were so severe that he checked himself into ERs to receive temporary relief and care. Though his redemption story is very personal, it’s also very much applicable to society and the importance of giving people second chances. Had that incarceration program not existed while Miller was in prison, it’s no telling if he would have achieved his current level of success. Ultimately, JUMP is also a plea for society to create more Larry Millers by giving more second chances to talented and hard-working individuals who would do well with a second chance.