Aussie NBA champion Patty Mills has been named the ACT’s Australian Of The Year.
The honour, announced by the ACT government on Friday, puts the Canberra-born Brooklyn Nets guard in the running to be named the Australian Of The Year in 2022.
Mills, 33, has been nominated for his “sporting achievements and work as an Indigenous mentor”.
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The news caps off what has been a remarkable 12 months for the star basketballer.
He was the first Indigenous flag-bearer in Australian Olympic history at the Tokyo Games. While there, he captained the Boomers with aplomb, helping the side to claim Australia’s first-ever Olympic medal in basketball.
Mills has also made an emphatic start to his first season with the Nets, whom he joined from the San Antonio Spurs for the 2021/22 NBA season.
A philanthropist and advocate for Indigenous rights, Mills is the founder of the Team Mills Foundation, an organisation working to “make a positive impact on communities worldwide”.
Thus far, the foundation has worked to supply clean drinking water to remote Indigenous communities, assisted in fire recovery programs and helped to organise the NBA’s first-ever Indigenous Night in 2020.
That year, Mills donated $1.5 million to Black Lives Matter Australia, Black Deaths in Custody and the We Got You campaign.
Mills is also the founder of Indigenous Basketball Australia, a non-profit championing Indigenous youth through the organisation of basketball programs.
“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. He’s an amazing guy,” said trailblazing female rugby player and 2019 ACT Australian Of The Year Katrina Fanning.
News of Mills’ honour comes two days after wheelchair tennis superstar Dylan Alcott was crowned Victorian Of The Year.
Alcott, who recently announced he would retire after the 2022 Australian Open, became just the second tennis player in history to claim a “Golden Slam” this year.
Other than Steffi Graff, no one else has ever won the Australian Open, French Open, US Open, Wimbledon and won Olympic gold in the one calendar year.