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Utah says good-bye to Larry H. Miller

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A week after Larry Miller's death, thousands paid tribute to the Jazz owner, businessman and community figure on the eve of his funeral.

The somber event was held an EnergySolutions Arena, known as "the house that Larry built." Politicians, religious leaders, sports figures, and admirers were there.

Community leaders, athletes pay their respects

The first wave was of VIPs and friends of the Miller family. We saw many sports stars, including Karl Malone, John Stockton and Frank Layden.

Karl Malone has kept a low profile since Miller's death, but he spoke up today, smiling, as he remembered the special qualities of a man who developed an unusually close relationship to his star player.

He loved his family, he loved his community, he loved his state, and I think all of us can take a page out of his book. --Karl Malone

"On one hand, it's a sad day. But on the other hand, it's a learning experience for all of us to take what he did and try to apply it to our everyday life. He loved his family, he loved his community, he loved his state, and I think all of us can take a page out of his book," Malone said.

Malone continued, "His legacy was when he was here and the things that he did when nobody else knew about it. And that's one of the things he taught me, I said it earlier, 'Do things without the cameras there. Do things just because it's the right thing to do and they feel good.' That's something I've always tried to do."

In honor of Miller, Malone says he will not speak in third person in regards to himself for the whole day.

Meanwhile, Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan greeted Miller's widow Gail. Former Jazz players John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek were nearby.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Thomas S. Monson saluted Miller's casket, which was painted with racing stripes and a Cobra emblem.

"The car dealer goes out the way he wanted to. It was one of his final wishes," Jazz broadcaster Craig Bolerjack said.

Family friends and strangers say good-bye

Many in attendance were people acquainted with Miller personally or through his business and sports activities.

He was charitable. I don't think everybody knows all the charitable things he's done for the people and entities in this state.

–-Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert.

Longtime friend Ben Behunin said, "I look at Larry as someone I admire, I respect, and one that I've always looked to for an example. Because he was always the type of person who was willing to listen to everyone's point of view before he made a decision. And I think that's how he lived his life."

"Well, he's just a great example of what we should all be: generous, thoughtful," said Jim and Sheron Fitch, also friends of the Miller family.

Miller's wife, Gail, and his children greeted the thousands of guests tonight, making strangers feel like friends just as Miller often did.

Many were ordinary citizens, people who came to respect and perhaps even love during his high-visibility career as one of Utah's most successful businessman.

The line inside snaked around the building, but few complaints were heard. It was a small price in order to pay tribute to a man who gave so much.

"He was a hard worker. He was honest. He was charitable. I don't think everybody knows all the charitable things he's done for the people and entities in this state," said Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert.

Fans suggest way to honor Miller

Some fans are suggesting a nice tribute to Miller would be to wear his "uniform" at the next Jazz game. Miller seemed to always wear his standard outfit of khaki pants and a polo.

Jordan Knight, who works at Fanzz, says that's what made Miller so likeable and so approachable.

"We have those polos that Larry H. Miller was so famous for wearing to the Jazz games. We have two styles: one with the Jazz written out, the other with the Jazz logo on the upper left chest," Knight said.

He continued, "I think we'll see a lot more of that here in remembrance of the Larry Miller: less Utah Jazz jerseys and more Miller jerseys, or the polo, if you will."

Knight says fans should buy a Jazz polo and support Miller for doing so much to keep the team here "Definitely come to the games the rest of the season. I don't want to see any empty seats," he said.

Miller's funeral planned for Saturday

The funeral on Saturday could accommodate a very large crowd. It will be held in the arena itself, which holds almost 20,000 seats during the basketball games Larry Miller loved. That is set to begin at noon.

Miller died last Friday from complications of Type 2 diabetes.


This story is compiled of reports from Sarah Dallof, John Hollenhorst and Mary Richards.


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