Ibn Ali Miller’s compassion and kindness became an inspiring example for millions this week, when a video of him breaking up a fight between two New Jersey teens went viral.
But while being honored in Atlantic City on Wednesday, the 26-year-old Good Samaritan took the time to honor another special person — his mother — for keeping him on the right path.
“More than anything, the person I’m going to give the most praise is my mother because she taught me about God and she raised me to be who I am,” Miller said in a news conference captured by ABC-6 News. “She supports me and aids me. She encourages me.”
With mother Sabrina Winters by his side, Miller choked back tears as he recounted stories from his childhood.
“When I was young, I grew up in the projects,” he said. “When I would get a punishment, she would make me read books and I’d get asked to write a short story or a poem.”
“She put pretzel sticks across the table and she told me, ‘Those pretzel sticks are the right path. The rest of the table is the wrong path, and that it’s very very difficult to stay in the right path,’ ” he continued.
Referring to the wrong path, Miller said that he would “find that out through the years.”
But his mother’s love never wavered.
“Even though trial and tribulations, my mother stuck by me.” he said. “She had me when [she] was very young. My mother aided me, my mother supported me. And I don’t know — people get 15 minutes of fame a lot. And I would like every second of the 15 minutes to send gratitude to my mother.”
Video of Miller breaking up the Monday brawl has been viewed more than 33 million times.
He can be seen in the clip urging the youngsters to make peace with one another to honor the hard work their parents put in — telling them that they’re practically adults and should start acting like it.
By the end, the two teens shake hands and make up.
“I’m a Muslim. I was raised by Muslim parents. That’s what we were taught in my house, always, growing up,” Miller, a married father of six, told TIME. “For me, I don’t look at it like I’m a peacemaker. I did what I was supposed to do, what I was raised to do.
“I just didn’t want those kids to fight. More importantly, I didn’t want one of those kids to lose the fight,” Miller also told TIME. “Sometimes when you’re young like that, and you lose a fight in front of your friends and it goes on Facebook, it could hurt you for a long time.”
The clip received widespread praise online — including from NBA star Lebron James, who tweeted about it and praised Miller for “[speaking] real to our young generation.”
FROM COINAGE: Who are the wealthiest NBA owners?
On Wednesday, the former rival teens joined Miller as he was honored by his local City Council.
“I’m crying because this whole situation deeply saddens me,” Miller said. “And the fact that it’s unbelievable? This should be very believable. This should be a norm and this should be regular.”
“I don’t want to take the attention because these young men, they were going to fight and they decided not to,” he added. “Not only did they decide not to fight, they decided to shake hands and display unity. These are teenagers — the adults in our community have a problem with this issue. And they displayed it very well.”
Praise, Miller said, should be shared with the people who raised the teen boys too.
“Not only am I going to thank my mom, I’m going to thank the people who raised them because they raised them to be young men of reason,” Miller cheered. “It seems to be a very, very rare trait in today’s youth.”