Kari Miller had no intentions of playing sitting volleyball.
"No way, shape or form," she says. "I thought of it as a real prissy sport where you wear these little booty shorts. I wasn't going to do it."
But so many things changed in her life 13 years ago when a drunk driver ended a promising career in the military, which included Army deployment to Bosnia and Korea, and took both of her legs.
Miller was celebrating the culmination of her hard work the night of the accident. Instead of waking up to a future in officer candidate school, she was left a double amputee.
Where most people would react with shock, anger and even depression, Miller didn't miss a beat. She credits her family as the support system that got her through, including one person in particular.
"My mom has always been a strong woman," she says. "Knowing that I had her there, I knew I was going to be OK."
Sometimes it was tough love though, and Miller admits she might not have understood early on what her mother was trying to do. But without that pushing, Miller would've never won a silver medal at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
That achievement in sitting volleyball did not come easy though. Miller first tried wheelchair basketball, but failed to qualify for Athens eight years ago. Reluctantly, she took on sitting volleyball, but was too raw to make that team either. Her mother saw the frustration and laid it out for her.
"She said, 'You don't even know what you're doing,'" Miller recalls.
She was right.
It took years of proper training, but Miller is one of the best defensive players in the world now and the American team is ranked second heading into the 2012 Paralympic games in London this summer. With a silver medal already around her neck, Miller is heading into this experience with a much
"I think this time I won't be so distracted by the unknowns," says Miller, who is working with the Citi Every Step of the Way. "I have an idea of how things will go. I won't be side tracked by what's going on around me. My heart won't be pumping 99 miles an hour."
And if Miller and her teammates are able to bring home the gold, she'll have a better respect for that victory than most will ever know.
"I think most people need to fail in order to bask in their success," she says. "Sometimes things come too easy for people and they don't understand what the accomplishments are that they've made."
That is something no one can ever say about Kari Miller.
-- Follow Adam Watson on Twitter @AdamKWatson.
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