GLORIA MILLER, wife of late Frankford High basketball coach Vince Miller, isn't sure how many people will show up for Saturday's tribute to her husband.

"I hope I'm not overwhelmed," she said yesterday with a laugh.

In her heart, she knows there will be a big turnout. Miller, a lifelong friend of Wilt Chamberlain - they played together at Overbrook High - coached for 27 seasons at Frankford (1972-98). He finished with two Public league titles (1988 and '89) and a record of 351-171.

But all of that isn't why he's remembered so fondly.

Vince Miller made a difference in the community and in the lives of countless young men both on and off the court.

On Saturday, there will be a tribute at the How Ya Wannit barbershop at 1630 Margaret St. from 4 to 8 p.m.

Why a barbershop?

"After he retired [in 1998] he would go to the barbershop and sit in his own special chair," Gloria Miller said. "Former players would come in with their children and they would tell their kids to go and speak with coach. They always called him coach. He was able to encourage them to do the right thing whether it be in basketball, football or whatever. And he always stressed education first.

"He was stern and intense [as a coach]. After he retired, they were able to see the real Vince Miller. The soft side."

Miller died on Feb. 3, 2009. Gloria said there wasn't a tribute on the 1-year anniversary because "the weather wasn't conducive for it."

That won't be the case Saturday when it's supposed to be 92 degrees and sunny.

"There'll be tents and tables and chairs," Gloria said. "Sonny Hill will speak.

"We're going to put up poster-size pictures of Vince on the walls of the barbershop and they'll stay there."

So will the barber's chair where Vince held court.

"They have his jacket draped over it and a basketball-shaped pillow on the seat," Gloria said. "No one sits in 'Coach's Chair.' "

- Tom Mahon

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