Boomers guard and soon to be re-signed San Antonio Spur, Patty Mills was named Person of the Year at the 2017 NAIDOC Awards.
According to ABC News, Mills’ father, Benny Mills accepted the award on behalf of Patty at the NAIDOC Ball, held in Cairns.
The NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Awards are an annual affair, one that happens during NAIDOC Week. NAIDOC Week is a nation-wide event, that celebrates the history and culture of the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The 2017 NAIDOC Awards include various categories, including Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Person of the Year, Sportsperson of the Year, among others.
Mills has always actively used his international profile as a basketball player to share the history of his people.
During Martin Luther King Day in 2015, Mills made comparisons to Martin Luther King and Eddie Mabo. Mabo –who was Mills’ great-uncle– was a Torres Straits Islander who battled for land rights recognition, for Indigenous Australians.
Mills never forgot about representing his people, and it was evident when he draped a Torres Straits flag around himself, while posing with the Larry O’Brien championship trophy in 2014.
“He takes a lot of pride in being the first Indigenous Australian to win an NBA championship,” Aron Baynes, fellow Aussie and Spurs teammate during that championship run, had said to Sports Illustrated back then. “But he’s just as proud if not more so to be able to do it for [all] indigenous people.”
Mills had also featured in a documentary, titled “For My People“, which was produced by James Rush in 2014.
Mills –who had received NAIDOC’s National Sportsperson of the Year in 2006 — also recently launched a series of books titled “Game Day!”, that talks about achieving goals through sport, and showcases Mills’ pride in his heritage.
“I think about it a lot because it is something I want to be involved in,” Mills said to ESPN, when asked about his retirement plans post-basketball. “[I’m] just trying to find the right way to do it. I want to be an ambassador [for indigenous people]. I want to keep educating the world on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. It’s who I am. It’s what I know — even more than basketball.
“To be able to promote it or educate it or teach it in a way, whether it’s through cultural centers or dancing or art or anything like that, I think is what I would want to do.”