Some of you grew up in places where you were never picked on habitually and it shows.
I was a fat kid all throughout my scholastic career. Fat, fishy white (in a very white area), with red hair that had a tendency to frizz up and curl in on itself when it got too long (I'll let you figure out what hair style it was often compared to or, worse, that I was encouraged to cultivate). My family wasn't poor-poor, but we weren't well off either. That meant clothing from KMart, Bradlees, Marshalls, and some catalogs. It meant being a target for the "cool" kids (since I wasn't athletic and was very shy and awkward), being ridiculed by girls when I started noticing them, and forcing myself to develop a hard, very hard, outer shell. When I changed school systems after 8th grade, I had fewer issues, but they never really went away until long after I graduated.
Some of the kids were absolute fucking monsters. I VIVIDLY remember being forced to lick a bus window by an older, bigger kid who had a reputation of being a bruiser. If I didn't, he would have punched me and I would rather be embarrassed than be in pain back then, so I did it. It was not the only such incident, but the one that stands out the most. But I still remember the name of everyone who ever bullied me, child and adult alike. I won't ever forget.
But I'm now 41 and have run into more than a few of them in the time since. No punches were thrown, no insults traded, no bad feelings after the encounters. None of them were the one who made me lick the window. That guy might not even be alive anymore (I haven't heard his name in over 30 years), but he's the only one I might ever say something to.
My point is that kids, especially in packs, are assholes. Full stop. School and social gatherings when we are young is how we begin to establish our social hierarchy, which males and females are the ones to pursue, and who the ones are to exclude (however wrong in some cases). For many, the mentality they adopt in junior or senior high is their default setting for life. For others, though, especially those who leave their small towns and see other parts of the country/world, it tends to change over time. For others, simply leaving high school is all it takes to drop the pretense and develop their "real" personality or to finally let it shine through. As I put in another thread, there are plenty of studies that show physical adulthood is not the same as mental adulthood, that our brains don't finish developing until nearly three decades of life experiences. It's simply not reality to say that who you are in high school dictates who you will always be.
Miller might still be an asshole, might always be one, but he's probably not done growing mentally and definitely wasn't back then. Was his apology sincere? Only he knows. The other person's mother may never accept the apology, which is her prerogative, but also sends kind of a fucked up message that being mean, even if it was unreasonably cruel, is not something that can ever be followed by true atonement. (The cynic in me asks why she never did anything about this when it was happening, even if it meant homeschooling him, and that her outrage reads a little like a request for reparations, but I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt and just say that she's still (or was at the time) in the "mama bear" mode.)
Miller wouldn't be the first person to turn a shitty start into a glorious finish, but he's definitely going to have to keep his head down and go out of his way to do some nice stuff before this ever really goes away. Here's hoping he can, even if it winds up being somewhere else in the end.
I'm pulling for the redemption story. You have to, in my mind, or what is the point of self-discovery and actualization? But if he flames out, it won't be the reason they don't win if they don't win.