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Patty Mills launches basketball organization to empower Indigenous Australians


Photo: Carlos Javier Sanchez | Contributor, Photojournalist

Patty Mills, whom Gregg Popovich lauded as the Spurs’ “spiritual leader,” recently launched an organization to help Indigenous Australian youth follow in his famous footsteps.

Patty Mills, whom Gregg Popovich lauded as the Spurs’ “spiritual…

Patty Mills, whom Gregg Popovich lauded as the Spurs’ “spiritual leader,” recently launched an organization to help Indigenous Australian youth follow in his famous footsteps.

The Spurs guard established Indigenous Basketball Australia, a program devoted to creating “pathways and opportunities at the grassroots level” so Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players can eventually succeed at the elite level.

In an interview with news.com.au, Mills said basketball has brought him “happiness, joy, health, education and knowledge.”

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“At the end of the day, a platform was created for me to carry and be my true identity as an Australian, an Indigenous man of the land. When I combine those experiences, I become aware of the positive influence I can have on my own people in Australia who are continuously oppressed,” Mills said in the interview.

The news outlet noted that Indigenous youth are detained by Australian police at a rate 23 times that of non-Indigenous young people.

Mills’ father, Benny, is a Torres Strait Islander. His mother, Yvonne, is an Aboriginal Australian.

The 31-year-old wants to use the IBA, which will facilitate community basketball competitions and development camps, as a vehicle to increase the number of Indigenous Australians on the national team — and address injustices.

“If IBA can create the positive environment that allows my people to enjoy a healthy and safe life, to be accepted and participate in a society free from discrimination, then that’s the real win for my people in this life,” Mills said.

Mills has long been known as the social conscious of the Spurs.

He spent the team’s All-Star break helping Australians affected by wildfires, then organized a coffee drive throughout San Antonio that raised more than $100,000 for the Family Violence Prevention Center.

Most recently, Mills vowed to donate his game checks from the NBA restart — worth $1,017,818.54 — to social justice causes in his homeland.