Billy Mills was born on June 30, 1938 in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. He is Oglala Lakota (Sioux) and grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Billy did not have an easy childhood. Surrounded by poverty and orphaned at the age of 12, he started running to channel his energy into something positive. In high school, his gift for running become more apparent as he set records in numerous track events. He went on to earn a track scholarship from the University of Kansas and then served as an Officer in the United States Marine Corps. At the 1964 Olympics, he shocked the world and came from behind to win the gold medal in the 10,000 meters race. At the time, he set a world record of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds and is still the only American to ever win a gold medal in the 10K event. His win was an upset that has been called the second greatest moment in Olympic history.
Billy has been the distinguished recipient of many honors, awards, and recognitions, continuing from his victory in the 1964 Olympics to the present day. From national and world athletic records to Hall of Fame inductions and becoming a best-selling author to changing the lives of thousands of Native Americans across the country, the impact Billy has had on American culture and society is incomparable.