Heat's Mike Miller thinking of daughter
MIAMI -- Miami Heat guard Mike Miller traveled with the team to Chicago on Wednesday for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference final series against the Bulls as his newborn daughter, Jaelyn, remained in an intensive care unit at a South Florida hospital.
Miller said it was a tough decision to travel with the team and leave his daughter, who was born with an undisclosed health issue caused by complications from childbirth.
Jaelyn Miller has remained hospitalized since she was born last Thursday. Miller has gone back and forth from practices and games to the hospital to be with his wife, Jennifer, and their daughter. The couple also has two other young sons.
"It's tough, because I really haven't been away from (Jaelyn) since she was born," Miller said after Wednesday's practice at AmericanAirlines Arena. "It's a difficult time for me and my family. But we know she'll be OK."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he has offered Miller as much time away from the team as he needs to be with his family. Miller missed last Friday's practice but has since opted to split his time between his teammates and family.
"We're here to support him through this," Spoelstra said. "He knows we're his family, too."
Miller took part in Wednesday's light workout session after playing one of his best games of the season in Miami's 101-93 overtime victory against Chicago on Tuesday to take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Heat can close out the series with a victory in Chicago on Thursday, and would advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2006.
Udonis Haslem, Miller's closest friend on the Heat and his former teammate with the Florida Gators, said he went through a similar situation when his son was born and needed to be in an ICU unit for several days earlier this season.
Haslem said Wednesday that Miller is handling things as well as can be expected.
"He's always been a family-oriented guy," Haslem said.
The situation also hit particularly close to home for center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. He and his wife were expecting twins in 2007, when complications arose and both babies were lost after being born four months premature.
"He has a lot on his mind," Ilgauskas said. "You just try to be a good friend right now. He's one of the toughest individuals I've ever been around. He's worked so hard, he's just a blue-collar guy who comes to play every day. But this, this is life."
Miller had 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench, making two huge 3-pointers to help the Heat hold off the Bulls. After the game, Miller said he went directly to the hospital and was awake until about 4 a.m. ET Wednesday.
"It hasn't been easy," said Miller, who has worn pink laces in his game shoes as a tribute to Jaelyn. "But we'll get through this."
Michael Wallace covers the NBA for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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