In February, Indigenous Basketball Australia, which was founded by Mills to provide pathways for Aboriginal Australians to play basketball, tipped off the first-ever Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL) for players age 14 and under in eight locations across Australia. The tournaments, which preserve and celebrate Indigenous cultural practices, focus on basketball development and life skills education, including mental and physical well-being as well as strengthening individual identity at a critical age. Additionally, Mills partnered with the NBA and the Jr. NBA to announce the National Indigenous Basketball Tournament (NIBT) at the Gold Coast in Queensland from April 11-13, which will provide additional on- and off-court development opportunities for 48 boys and girls.
Mills has dedicated much of his professional playing career in the United States to giving back to Australia, with a particular focus on empowering Indigenous young people and communities of color. In 2020, he donated the remainder of his 2019-20 season salary to social justice organizations and helped launch the ‘We Got You’ campaign in collaboration with other high-profile Australian athletes, dedicated to eliminating racism, exclusion and discrimination in sports. Mills also organized a $750,000 donation from nine Australian NBA players in the wake of the devastating Australian bushfires earlier in the year.
“Basketball as a sport has brought me happiness, joy, education and a real sense of purpose,” said Mills. “However, not everyone has had the same opportunities as I have, which is why I’m so dedicated to using my platform, my profile and my voice to develop innovative programs like IBA, which will allow my people to really own their story.”
Mills was presented with the award during a special virtual ceremony with league, Kaiser Permanente and Spurs officials on Friday, and will also be recognized during the team’s home game tonight against the Sacramento Kings at 8:30 p.m. ET. In addition, Kaiser Permanente and the NBA will donate $10,000 on Mills’ behalf to Indigenous Basketball Australia.
The NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente recognizes an NBA player each month who best reflects the passion that the league and its players share for giving back to their communities. It honors the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson, who improved the community piece by piece. At the end of the 2020-21 regular season, the Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award winner will be announced. To learn more, please visit http://www.nba.com/communityassist/.