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Patrick Mills is the 2017 National NAIDOC Person of the Year

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Indigenous man in the Australian basketball uniform dribbles a basketball down the court with a crowd in the background looking on.
Patrick Mills: member of the Australian Men’s Basketball Team (Boomers)
5 Jul 2017

Born in Canberra to a Torres Strait Islander father and a Ynunga mother, Patrick Mills (Patty) is a three time Olympian, the only Indigenous Australian to win a National Basketball Association (NBA) Championship and the youngest man to ever represent Australia in basketball.

And now, in the latest recognition of his accomplishments, Patty has been named the prestigious 2017 National NAIDOC Person of the Year.

From an early age it seemed that Patty was destined to be a great basketballer; the nephew of dual Olympian basketballer Danny Morseu and cousin of fellow NBA player Nathan Jawai, Patty started playing basketball as a four-year-old with the Indigenous Australian team that his parents started.

While he continued to play basketball growing up, Patty also excelled in other sporting endeavours, including athletics and Australian Rules football, where he impressed Sydney Swans coaching staff enough to get them to attempt to change AFL recruiting rules so they could recruit him.

Instead, Patrick chose basketball, and along the way has collected an impressive array of accolades, including the 2006 National NAIDOC Sportsperson of the Year, the Deadlys “Most Promising New Talent in Sport” and Basketball Australia’s Player of the Year in 2006, the Deadlys Male Sportsperson of the Year in 2008, 2011 and 2012, ACT Young Australian of the Year in 2015; and ACT Sports Male Athlete of the Year in 2016.

While his basketball skills have brought him worldwide fame, the National NAIDOC Committee also took into account Patrick’s off court activities when deciding to make him the 2017 Person of the Year.

A tall, middle-aged Torres Strait Islander man speaking at a rostrum with two women standing behind him.
Patrick Mills’s father Benny Mills accepts the 2017 National NAIDOC Person of the Year Award on Patrick’s behalf.

Patty has used his international profile in basketball to promote and raise awareness of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, including sharing his language and culture and working with SNAICC to become an ambassador for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.

An inspirational figure and a charismatic leader for reconciliation while only in his twenties, Patrick Mills will certainly play an important role in our country’s future.

Find out more

Visit the National NAIDOC website or Facebook page for more details about the event and award winners.

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