Patrick Mills, right, hamming it up with Joe Ingles in London. But it hasn't all been fun and games for the Indigenous basketball star. Photo: Chris Dutton
Australian star Patrick Mills has revealed he has been the victim of racial taunts during his career but the proud indigenous athlete says the insults have inspired him to reach his basketball dreams.
Mills' admission came as he arrived in London for his second Olympic Games where he will lead the Boomers on their campaign to be the first men's team to win a basketball medal.
But he has a simple message for those suffering a similar fate - don't retaliate.
Athletics Australia was rocked when 400m runner John Steffensen said he was racially abused by an official at the Games in Beijing four years ago.
Steffensen has caused headaches for officials and Olympic gold medallist Steve Hooker backed up his claims earlier this week.
Mills hadn't heard about Steffensen's ongoing fight and he was reluctant to make it "a bigger issue"."But to say that it didn't exist wouldn't be true," Mills told Fairfax.
"At no point did I let it affect what I do, it kind of even motivates me to be a role model.
"Things are said [on and off the court] when you grow up, but you don't let it beat you and let your playing do the talking.
"And the more success I can hopefully achieve, that's my way of sending a reply ... It's died off the further I've gone through my career, but that's the stuff that makes me want to be a role model, it's my way of giving back."
Mills has a strong connection to his heritage and his mum Yvonne was part of the Stolen Generation.
Yvonne was just two and a half years old when she, her brother and three sisters were taken from their mother at Koonibba, west of Ceduna on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula. His dad Benny is a Torres Strait Islander.
When Mills was growing up he was part of the Shadows basketball club in Canberra which gave young athletes from a diverse range of backgrounds a chance to play the sport.
It was more than a club, it was "a family" for indigenous people moving to the capital and Mills credits it with the start of his basketball journey.
The 23-year-old has since risen into the NBA and recently signed a new two-year deal with the San Antonio Spurs.
His uncle Danny Morseu was the first indigenous player to represent Australia in basketball and he carries three flags with him to international events - the Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags.
"We had all different kinds of races on our team in Shadows and it's not talked about a lot but it was an amazing experience, that's where it all started for me," Mills said.
"I was fortunate in the area I grew up in and the schools I went to that I had great people who surrounded me.
"I put myself as a role model, that's for sure. I'm coming to London representing Australia at the Olympic Games and that's something I'm very proud of.
"I also represent the indigenous community in Australia and my family. Not only do I wave the Australian flag, but I wave both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and that's something that means more to me than most things."
With star Andrew Bogut missing from the squad through injury, Mills is the Boomers' only NBA player.
The Boomers will begin their campaign when they play Brazil on Sunday night.Captain Matt Nielsen and Aleks Maric are nursing injuries, but coach Brett Brown said both would be available for the first match.
"You can get caught in a dizzy circle if start to think too far ahead," Brown said."We have to be aggressive and draw a line in the sand ... we've tried not to skip steps, we've tried to come in with a world-class fitness base and these guys are cut up and can run all night."