Boomer Patty Mills has on Friday launched Indigenous Basketball Australia (IBA), an initiative focused on giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders pathways into basketball.
Set to be the "first of its kind" in Australia, the IBA will commence in 2021, with an aim to get more Indigenous Australians into grassroots pathways which will allow them to push for selection in professional competitions both in Australia and abroad.
According to Mills, the program will allow Indigenous Australians to hone their skills and development in an environment "free from discrimination, criticism, judgment and exclusion".
In a media release, the San Antonio Spurs guard and three-time Olympian Mills said basketball "inspired" him to "dream big and continually find ways to learn and grow", and that helping Australia's Indigenous youth realise their potential and their own dreams was important to him as "an Indigenous man".
"My love of basketball has come from the fact that it has brought me happiness, joy, health, education and knowledge with greater appreciation and perspective on life. At the end of the day, a platform was created for me to carry and be seen as my true identity as an Australian, an Indigenous man of the land," Mills said on Friday.
"When I combine those experiences, I become aware of the positive influence I can have on my own people in Australia who are continuously oppressed. It makes me want to work harder at finding ways to provide better opportunities to make a real impact on the lives of my people."
Mills also moved to shed light on the "gross negligence" that Indigenous youth in Australia face everyday, and added that he hopes IBA will be "the vehicle" that will see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians live a "healthy and safe life", with the ultimate goal to see more pull on the green and gold in the future.
"Indigenous youth are being detained at a rate 23 times that of non-Indigenous young people," Mills said. "Currently, of the 10-13 year olds incarcerated, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up approximately 70 percent of this younger age group. Disturbing stats and we should feel responsible to take urgent and innovative actions to address this gross negligence occurring in the lives of young Indigenous people.
"Basketball will be the vehicle, and IBA will drive this vehicle to one day see more Indigenous Australians pulling on the Green and Gold for the Boomers or Opals. But if IBA can create the positive environment that allows my people to enjoy a healthy and safe life, to be accepted and participate in a society free from discrimination, then that's the real win for my people in this life."
Mills' announcement comes just a couple of weeks after he pledged to donate his salary earned while in the NBA "bubble" to Black Lives Matter and other social justice organisations.
He also earlier this year founded the Team Mills Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at supporting minority groups and underprivileged families around the world.