When Lawyer Milloy was a little boy, his father always offered
the same instructions before heading out the door for the
faraway destinations to which the Army was sending him. "Lawyer,
you're the man of the house now," Larry Milloy would say. "Hold
down the fort." No one could have known at the time how
prophetic those words would be.
When his family life was later torn asunder by his parents' drug
use, Lawyer picked himself up by his bootstraps and steadfastly
marched on. During the long, hard recovery process that
followed, he was the one who prodded and motivated, forgave and
forgot. As an All-Pac-10 safety for Washington and starting
centerfielder for the Husky baseball team, Lawyer has made
plenty of game-saving tackles and run-saving catches. But none
of them can compare with the biggest save of all: his family.
"He held us all together," says Larry. "We've been through some
ups and downs, but Lawyer has blessed us with a lot of gifts. We
can't ever repay him."
Lawyer's mother, Mae Blakeny, was only 15 when he was born (she
married Larry a year later). Most everyone urged her to give up
the baby, but Mae was a proud and determined mother. "I always
felt if you were woman enough to get pregnant, you were woman
enough to take care of your child," she says.
August 4, 1995
Larry Milloy, a senior in high school when Lawyer was born,
entered the Army as a supply specialist shortly after
graduation. He spent more than half of the next six years
overseas but prided himself on providing for the family, and
when he was home he doted on Lawyer. The Milloys had a second
son, Galvin, seven years after Lawyer, and much of the family
time was spent cheering at the sporting events of Tacoma (Wash.)
East Side Boys and Girls Club, where Lawyer demonstrated
phenomenal natural ability. If times were occasionally lean,
they were uniformly happy. "We always had love in the house,"
But this Rockwellian portrait bore ominous brushstrokes. Larry
had been using drugs since he was 11, everything "from cocaine
to reds to downers to Robitussin cough syrup all the way to
heroin," he says. In time Mae, too, became a heavy user of
cocaine. "They tried to hide it from me," Lawyer says. "I was
kind of aware, but it was a case of not really wanting to know."
He was 15 when he couldn't dodge the truth any longer. One day
while Lawyer was at basketball practice, Larry signed for a
large package of narcotics that arrived in the mail; he was
arrested on the spot and sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for
conspiracy to receive a controlled substance. On the day his
father went away, Lawyer got a familiar feeling. "He didn't get
the chance to say it, but I knew I was the man of the house
again," he says.
But for all his maturity and devotion, Lawyer was powerless when
Mae's drug use intensified. "I should have been stronger when my
husband was sent away," she says, "but instead I got weaker."
Watching his mother's downward spiral was unbearable for Lawyer.
The last straw came one night when Mae's dealer knocked on the
door demanding payment. It was one of Lawyer's classmates.
Lawyer wrapped his hands around the guy's throat and almost
didn't let go. Shortly thereafter, he moved in with his best
friend; after a court hearing in which Mae was declared an unfit
parent, Lawyer was made a ward of the state. Galvin went to live
with Mae's mom in St. Louis.
It was not long afterward that Mae, so high she hadn't slept in
nearly a week, got on a bus and wound up in Trenton, N.J. She
hadn't so much as said goodbye or left a note. "I thought I had
lost her forever," Lawyer says. Mae spent the next year in
Trenton as a janitor at the state capitol, scrubbing toilets on
the graveyard shift and slowly trying to put the pieces of her
life back together, with the hope of eventually returning to
Tacoma. "The only way to save myself was to get away," Mae says,
"and I knew I wouldn't be able to bear hearing my boys' voices."
His dad behind bars, his mom gone without a trace and his
brother in St. Louis, Lawyer felt like an orphan. He kept all
the hurt and anger inside and became as strong and impenetrable
as granite. What sustained him? "School and sports," he says.
"That's all I had." He poured himself into his studies and
became a terror on the playing fields. "That's the only place
where I could take out all my aggressions," says the 6'2"
200-pounder. Lawyer also had an unbreakable pride, one that
motivated him even when there was no one there to cheer him on.
"Doing well in school," he says, "and taking care of business on
the field was my way of being a role model to my mom and dad."
"He was an inspiration," Larry says. "When I went [to prison],
hearing his voice and finding out about all the good things he
was up to was one of the few things I had to look forward to."
Asked what finally brought her home, Mae pauses and then says
softly, "Lawyer." She has walked the straight and narrow ever
since, she says, "because Lawyer has done everything to make me
proud of him. I want him to be proud of me."
The Milloys were reunited during Lawyer's senior year in high
school. Today, Mae and Larry remain legally married and on good
terms, but they have been living apart for the past 21/2 years.
They still go to church together every Sunday, and often sit
next to each other at Lawyer's games. Larry is working in the
kitchen at Fort Lewis in Tacoma; the drugs are in his past. Mae,
too, has been substance-free for more than two years and now
volunteers at the treatment center where she finally slew her
addiction. She is working toward becoming a fully credentialed
chemical-dependency counselor. "I'm always telling them how
proud I am of them," Lawyer says, his eyes smiling. Galvin, now
15, is also doing well. He came back from St. Louis shy and a
little awkward socially, so Lawyer was relieved when his brother
recently shelved his posters of sports stars for those of
"All that stuff is behind us now," Lawyer says of the bad old
days. "I never blamed my mom or dad for anything, and never held
any grudges towards either of them for what happened."
These days, when Lawyer is rocking Husky Stadium with his
bone-rattling tackles or showing off the myriad talents that got
him drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 19th round of June's
Major League Baseball amateur draft, Mae and Larry are there
cheering him on and yelling themselves hoarse. "It's times like
those," Mae says, "that I just want to stand up and shout for
everyone to hear, He made it! Lawyer made it! And I made it,
too! We all made it!"