By Ken Rodriguez of Spurs.com
Patty Mills does not remember when he first heard the story of his mother's kidnapping. He does not remember when he learned about the government that snatched her from her family at age 2, or the welfare officer who checked her for lice, or the school that forced her to take intelligence tests -- all because her skin was dark.
All he remembers is that when people talked about The Stolen Generation in Australia, he didn't need a textbook or a teacher to explain the horrifying details. He had a mother at home who not only lived through it but devoted her life to improving the lives of Aboriginals like her.
"I'm very proud of my mother," Mills was saying after a recent Spurs practice. "Just the way you see her helping others is very warming." The story of Yvonne Mills -- Patty's mother -- is one of heartbreak and heroism, one that shaped and inspired her son and propelled him to the NBA as only the second player in league history of Aboriginal descent.
Yvonne and her husband Benny Mills are Indigenous Australians, whose ancestors were original inhabitants of the continent. Indigenous peoples represent less than three percent of the population. Their health is poorer, their incomes lower, their life expectancies shorter. They are less educated and face more discrimination.
"I'm still learning how important and special my family really is," he says.
One uncle, Danny Morseau, was the first Aboriginal basketball player to represent Australia at the Olympics, first in 1980 and again in 1984. Benny and Yvonne both played hoops in their youth and taught Patty the game.
"I like to say I got all my moves from my mom," Patty says, "and my dad just fine-tuned them." Patty became a star player with Shadows and drew inspiration from Uncle Danny. "I looked up to him," Patty says. Before long, children began looking up to Patty.
Despite his smallish 6-foot-0 frame, he dazzled with speed, deft passing and scoring. He attended the prestigious Australian Institute of Sport with Nate Jawal, the NBA's first Aboriginal player, before taking his game to St. Mary's College in California.
In his fourth outing, Patty dropped 37 points on No. 11 Oregon, a St. Mary's freshman record. His performance prompted Ducks coach Ernie Kent to compare Mills to Tony Parker.
"If he plays that way every night," Kent told reporters after the game, "he's a pro."
Five years later, Patty is playing with Parker and can hardly believe his good fortune.
Patty spent two years as a backup in Portland (scoring 23 points in the final regular season game of 2011), and played overseas during the NBA lockout until the Xinjiang Flying Tigers released him in January. "It feels great to be part of a team after sitting out for the last few months," he says. "But to be part of a great organization with great people around you makes it even better."
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