Cal Bruton stepped onto the court armed with little more than a smile.
There would be no missing the "little black boy from Queens". He was one of two African-American imports playing in the NBL's maiden season in 1979.
There was no denying his talent, for Bruton would finish the season as the league's leading scorer to lay the foundations for a Hall of Fame career. But racial abuse was par for the course.
It could so easily have broken him. Yet instead Bruton would rest on his mother's mantra and do anything he could to make people smile.
"My mum," Bruton said, "she put that into my soul".
Forty-two years after arriving in Australia for a season with the Brisbane Bullets, Bruton is still here. Today he is the recipient of an Order of Australia Medal for his service to basketball as a player and a coach, which has laid the foundation for his service to disadvantaged youth and indigenous communities.
"I've had to deal with [racism] on so many different levels, in terms of being excluded and out of opportunities," Bruton said.
"Winning championships and feeling like there was no further place to go so you had to move on, pack up a family and go. I found those things difficult.
"My philosophy has always been to keep it moving. If you put sunshine in other people's lives, you can't keep it from yourself.
"I just went with the mantra that I had to care, I had to care about everything I do, care about people, I'm always trying to help. Every day I try to put a smile on someone's face."
Bruton would do just that for basketball fans around the country during a glittering career in which he won championships as both a player and coach in an NBL career which led him to the helm of the Canberra Cannons.
But Bruton laughs that career got off to a little bit of a challenging start.
"Obviously I didn't know anything about Australia. I arrived in 1979 in February, and I played my first game the following day. I didn't even meet my teammates until I got into the locker room," Bruton said.
"Then of course, we go out and play a game against another black American, who I was told at the time was an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, in Herb McEachin.
"My teammates had set me up, they said they didn't speak very good English and you had to talk slow to them so they could read your lips. I lined up opposite Herb and said [slowly] 'my name is Cal'.
"He looked at me and said 'what's wrong with you bro? I'm Herb, I'm from San Francisco'. I looked back at my teammates and they're just cacking themselves.
"That was my little wake-up call, 'okay, the Aussies have got a major sense of humour and I've got to be on my toes'."
American import Bruton would become a naturalised Australian in 1983, opening the door for him to pull on the green and gold of his adopted home.
But when he takes a moment to compare his success on the basketball court to his work off it, there is little debate as to which Bruton takes more pride in.
His broken NBL Hall of Fame plaque sits in his garage. An honour to be a part of the group, absolutely. But what Bruton did on the court is in the past.
Today he wants to make a difference in the community, running the Black Pearl Basketball Academy and an AFL Sportsready program designed to further education and employment opportunities.
Now Bruton is on the verge launching a foundation to help indigenous communities and disadvantaged youths, adamant the time for lip service is over.
"Coming up as a fatherless young man from the age of seven, I couldn't imagine having to come here and pioneer a whole new generation of black American basketball players. But I came here and let them know where there's a will, there's a way," Bruton said.
"If you do the right thing, you too can make a life here. So many have. I'm very proud to be one of the first to do that, even though I probably had to take the brunt of all the discriminatory attacks. Now that door is beginning to open and evolve.
"I'm an old guy now, 66, I'm on that route 66 right now. I've had some physical challenges in terms of health, but I've kept it going.
"My family have given me that inspiration to keep it moving regardless of what challenges I have to face, to let them know that if I can get through it, they can too. I'm really feeling blessed at this stage."
Order of Australia
Mr Calvin Thomas BRUTON; For service to basketball as a player and coach.
Current work: Owner and Instructor, Black Pearl Basketball Academy, current; Master Coach, AFL Sportsready Education and Employment, since 2016; Director, Stand Tall Coaching Program, Charity Bounce, since 2016; Director, Capital Basketball, since 2014.
National Basketball League (NBL) career: As a player - NBL champion, two-time All NBL first team, NBL scoring champion, NBL's 20th Anniversary team, NBL's 25th Anniversary team, Hall of Fame member. As a coach - NBL champion, NBL coach of the year.
Awards and recognition include: Australian Sports Medal Past world championship player and coach, 2000; NBL Hall of Fame Member, 1998; NBL Champion, 1990; Most Recognised Sports Personality in Western Australia, 1987-1990; NBL Coach of the Year, 1982.