Patty Mills is not only a household name when it comes to basketball – he is known throughout Australia’s Indigenous communities, for his work and advocacy.

However, 2021 is the year that the 33-year-old took his career to new heights, from becoming the first Indigenous Australian flag-bearer at the Tokyo Olympics to winning the 2022 Australian Capital Territory Australian of the year award.

The proud Kokatha, Naghiralgal and Dauareb-Meriam man has gone from strength to strength this season after signing a two-year, $US12 million ($16m) deal with the
Brooklyn Nets.

Mills made his mark during his debut game with the Nets, finishing on 21 points off the bench, and made history during his second match, becoming the first player ever to start a season shooting a perfect 10-of-10 three-pointers.

His trajectory has continued to rocket, with Mills scoring the most three-pointer (nine) by a Nets player off the bench, against Oklahoma City Thunder.

In that game, Mills scored a season-high 29 points.

The Canberra-born point-guard was honoured this month with the title of ACT’s Australian of the year for 2022.

Mills was nominated for his sporting achievements and work as an Indigenous mentor.

His award was accepted on his behalf by Wiradjuri woman Katrina Fanning, who said the award would “help more Australians learn of his important work”.

“I think it helps the rest of Australia understand that what he does is not just on a court,” she said.

Mills is quite the philanthropist, founding the Team Mills Foundation, which has worked to supply clean drinking water to remote Indigenous communities, and Indigenous Basketball Australia, a not-for-profit organisation working with Indigenous youth.

Ms Fanning said despite his success overseas, Mills had remained humble through it all.

“He’s never forgotten where he comes from, and that includes Canberra,” she said.

“He’s just been, and will continue to be, a wonderful ambassador.”

“What Australia thinks Patty’s achieved on the basketball court is probably nothing compared to what he’s going to achieve over the course of his life, because he’s just an amazing guy.”

Mills has also reportedly donated $1.5m to Black Lives Matter Australia, Black Deaths in Custody and the We Got You campaign.

By Teisha Cloos