As an Army Veteran, Paralympian Athlete, and Gold Medalist, Kari Miller-Ortiz uses her unique perspective to help spearhead change and advancement within the adaptive sports community.
Kari Miller-Ortiz is being honored for her resilience, optimism, and determination with the 2023 Insperity Inspiration Award at the 2023 Houston Sports Awards on January 25 at the Wortham Center. In partnership with Insperity, the award was created to honor inspirational individuals, teams, or moments in the Greater Houston sports community.
Former US Army Sergeant Kari Miller-Ortiz has always inspired those around her. Inspired by her single mom, who worked as a detective, and her aunt, who had served in the Army, Miller-Ortiz made the decision to enlist in the US Army. Unfortunately, in 1999, while home for the holidays, she lost both of her legs after being hit by a drunk driver. Miller-Ortiz persisted during this time, specifically using sports and fitness as a way to move forward.
During her recovery, Miller-Ortiz began to get involved in wheelchair-based sports, including wheelchair basketball and wheelchair volleyball. Through hard work and training, Miller-Ortiz eventually made her way onto Team USA. From here, she and her team’s success continued to grow. Over the years, Miller-Ortiz helped her team win silver and bronze medals. Finally, in 2016, Miller-Ortiz experienced her career highlight when her team won gold at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“We are pleased to present this year’s Insperity Inspiration award to Paralympian gold medalist Kari Miller-Ortiz,” said Larry Shaffer, Insperity's Senior Vice President of Marketing. “As an army veteran and community activist, Miller-Ortiz represents Insperity’s values, mission, and most importantly, determination during the most uncertain times.”
Today, Miller-Ortiz continues to work towards creating advancement and opportunity within the paralympic community through her involvement with multiple organizations. Miller-Ortiz is currently serving as Move United’s Director of People and Culture, helping lead the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives for the organization. She also helps coach and supports many community programs, including the US Air Force wounded ill and injured program and the Sports Authority Foundations' new adapted sports program, Abilities In Motion.
The sixth annual Houston Sports Awards will be a night to remember and will honor three of the most iconic athletes of the century - Bruce Matthews, Calvin Murphy, and Elvin Hayes as its sixth Hall of Fame Class. In addition, Larry Dierker is honored with the ement Award, Jim honored as the Executive of the Year, and José Altuve will receive the Sportsmanship Award.
The full list of finalists for the 2023 Houston Sports Awards can be found at HoustonSportsAwards.org/Nominees