Everything About Tonya Hudson Kirby Puckett’s Ex-Wife

Kirby Puckett was a famous baseball player who played for the Minnesota Twins for 12 years. However, there was someone who was a crucial part of his journey both on and off the field: his wife, Tonya Hudson. Tonya was a loving mother, supportive wife, pastor, and former math teacher. She helped Kirby navigate through his career highs and lows, and they faced personal challenges together. However, their journey together ended when they divorced in 2002.

So, what is Tonya’s story?

Tonya Hudson Biography

Tonya Pucket-Miller was born Tonya Hudson on May 12, 1965, in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Margaret Hudson of Edina. She grew up in north Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park, where she met Kirby Puckett, whom she married in 1986.

They adopted two children, Catherine and Kirby Jr., creating a family amidst Kirby’s celebrated career with the Minnesota Twins. They named one of their kids Catherine, after Kirby’s mother, a sweet nod to keeping the family legacy alive.

After Kirby suddenly woke up unable to see clearly, he made the heart-wrenching decision to retire in 1996. Tonya was right there, steadfastly supporting him through it all.

However, their union ended in 2002, during a tumultuous period marked by Kirby’s legal battles, including accusations in September 2002 of groping a woman, which led to charges of false imprisonment, fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, and fifth-degree assault. Kirby was acquitted of all charges.

After the divorce, Tonya dedicated herself to philanthropy, significantly contributing to organizations such as Children’s HeartLink and the Puckett Scholars program. This scholarship fund, initiated by Tonya and Kirby in 1994, supports students of color at the University of Minnesota. She also supported distressed children through Safe Families, a Christian organization.

Marriage to Rev. Miller

Tonya’s life took a new direction when she married Rev. Dr. Melvin Miller in 2013. Together they had seven children.

The story of how they met feels almost fated, with a mutual friend introducing by asking Melvin to tutor Kirby Jr. in math. Melvin, with his background in math and teaching, seemed like the perfect addition to their family.

Melvin received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Hampton University. Miller also worked as a high school math teacher before transitioning into ministry.

Tonya gracefully embraced her role as the First Lady of Progressive Baptist Church, leading with faith and compassion.

Cause of Death

However, life threw another curveball when Tonya was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a brutal form of brain cancer.

Diagnosed in January 2022, her fight against this relentless disease was publicly acknowledged by her husband, Rev. Melvin Miller, the senior pastor at St. Paul’s Progressive Baptist Church. He commemorated her as an “amazing mother, an amazing community leader,” deeply committed to her faith in Jesus Christ and her church’s mission.

She succumbed to the cancer at 58 after a courageous 20-month battle. She passed away on September 15, 2023, in her Mendota Heights home.

Kirby Puckett predeceased her on March 6, 2006, after a massive stroke.

Tonya is survived by a blended family of seven children, including Catherine and Kirby Jr., her son with Melvin, 14-year-old Tyson (as of 2023), stepchildren Martin, Mariah, Mikal Miller, and Morgan Carrillo, grandchildren Brendan Draper, Nairobi Nelson, Bailey O’Brien, Savannah Puckett, and Kirby Puckett III, and her in-laws, Eunice and Earl Miller.

Tonya’s life was celebrated at Progressive Baptist Church on 1505 Burns Avenue in St. Paul.

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