11/6/22 UPDATE: The Boston Bruins have cut ties with Mitchell Miller and apologized in a statement to Isaiah Meyer-Crothers and his family.
The Boston Bruins' signing of defenseman Mitchell Miller is marred in controversy over his conviction for the racist bullying of a classmate as a teenager.
The mother of Isaiah Meyer-Crothers says Mitchell racially bullied her adopted son, who is developmentally disabled, for years. In middle school, he pleaded guilty to an assault charge and a violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act.
"As far as I'm concerned, he's a monster," Joni Meyer-Crothers told NBC10 Boston Friday.
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The Arizona Coyotes relinquished Mitchell's draft rights shortly after he was selected in 2020 after reports of his conviction at age 14 surfaced.
"He told our son that his Black mom and dad didn't love him, that's why he had white parents," Joni Meyer-Crothers said. "On a daily basis, was called the N-word. [Miller] would ask Isaiah to sit with him on the bus, and as soon as Isaiah would sit with him, him and his friends would just punch Isaiah in the head nonstop, and all he wanted was friends. So he was an easy target for Mitchell."
Miller and another teenager were also accused of making him eat a candy push pop after wiping it in a bathroom urinal, and surveillance video showed them kicking and punching him.
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The Bruins offered Mitchell an entry-level contract Friday. General Manager Don Sweeney stood behind the move.
"We feel that there's an opportunity for a young man to have a career as a result -- despite, I should say -- a very misguided and immature decision back when he was in the eighth grade," Sweeney said.
Meyer-Crothers says Mitchell recently apologized to her son via Snapchat.
"When Mitchell Snapchatted my son a week and a half ago, he apologized and said … 'It has nothing to do with hockey.' Well, it has everything to do with hockey," she said.
"We're going to hold him to a standard that he needs to understand that each and every one of us, as individuals, look in the mirror every day and [have] respect for others and have to be, you know, unilaterally inclusive," Sweeney said.
The Bruins say they've spent time with Mitchell to gain a better understanding of who he is. Meyer-Crothers believes the damage done to her son is being overlooked by the team.
"This was years and years of abuse," she said. "The Bruins can say he made a mistake, but they need to get their whole story straight rather than minimizing what happened."
The Bruins' news release announcing Miller's signing leads with a quote from Miller apologizing for the 2016 incident.
"When I was in eighth grade, I made an extremely poor decision and acted very immaturely," he said. "I bullied one of my classmates. I deeply regret the incident and have apologized to the individual. Since the incident, I have come to better understand the far-reaching consequences of my actions that I failed to recognize and understand nearly seven years ago. I strive to be a better person and positively contribute to society."
He added that as a member of the Bruins organization, he will continue to participate in community programs to educate himself and share his mistakes with others.