• Patty Mills interacts with teammates before an NBA game (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Australian Boomers and San Antonio Spurs star Patty Mills has gone above and beyond to help improve morale in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
By
Jonathan Bernard

8 Apr 2020 - 5:32 PM  UPDATED 8 Apr 2020 - 5:32 PM

From devastating bushfires to the painful pandemic, Australians have had little room for reprieve in 2020 - a year that's seen thousands lose their jobs, homes and loved ones.

But despite the difficult circumstances, Mills has made it his mission to spur positive change across communities both at home and abroad.

"I see myself as a role model, not only for Indigenous people but all Australians," Mills told SBS Sport's Craig Foster.

"As I’ve grown up through sport, and become this role model, I think I one hundred per cent feel a responsibility to be a figure that people can look up to so they can do the right things and do the things that can give them the best possible chance to be able to achieve their own dreams, no matter what they are.”

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A proud Indigenous man, Mills too has achieved his dreams, having represented Australia at the last three Olympics and lifted the NBA championship in 2014.

But perhaps what the potent point guard holds most valuable is the work he's done away from the court and in the community.

"This thing about me and my culture and how strong I am with it, not only let me be connected with Australia but it’s something that has been there my entire life," Mills said.

"As I saw the bushfire disaster throughout the TV and on the news, I saw my country going up in flames and a part of me felt like my identity was going up in flames too, as we saw the flora and fauna damaged.

"It damaged the land, it damaged the wildlife, local businesses and it was very heart-wrenching.

"For me, it was just trying to work out a way that we could make an impact from over here in America.”

Amidst the chaotic schedule of the now-suspended NBA season, the 31-year-old was able to return home to Australia to assist those impacted and help rebuild wildlife sanctuaries.

The generous gesture brought hope to their heartbreak, and though the coronavirus has since forced fellow athletes to remain indoors, it hasn't stopped Mills from breaking barriers once again.

Fans have been invited to engage with the #ThrillsWithMills movement on social media during their isolation, with the Spurs star on hand to entertain and encourage them through his love of music.

Not only has the initiative proven a simple solution to the current social restrictions, but it remains yet another example of Mills using his platform - as a progressional athlete - for good.

"Adversity is something all athletes go through at some point in time to be able to grow and develop,” he said.

“And I think the message in these times is to be able to stay positive and not get discouraged, and continue to stay upbeat."