NBA star Patty Mills more than a kid with a dream

Patty Mills always considered himself to be just another kid with a dream, but today the San Antonio Spurs star is so much more.

Sure, he's got a $A65 million NBA contract and will try to land the Spurs a record 21st consecutive play-off berth next season.

But that's not what makes him different.

What makes him different is that today he is the one inspiring the next generation of kids to shoot for their dreams.

The 28-year-old NBA star was in Canberra on Sunday to meet fans and sign copies of his children's book series 'Game Day!', insisting on greeting every single person in the line with a smile and a handshake.

The Spurs guard plucked 11-year-old Logan Harrison out of the crowd for a shootout - which the Holy Spirit primary school student won, and the youngster was itching to tell his mates about it straight away.

Harrison couldn't stop talking about the time he spent with one of his heroes for the rest of the day, and moments like that make Mills realise how far he has come since being a kid with a dream.

"I guess you don't really understand the impact that you have on kids until you do something like this," Mills said.

"For me, these kids step up on the stage and you see the smile on their face and the look in their eyes, it's really a reminder for me that I'm doing the right thing.

"This kids book that I've come out with, it's another way to try and relate and connect with kids and make sure they get some guidance and some valuable lessons to be able to achieve their dreams."

Three people enter the discussion when Mills talks about the people he idolised growing up in Canberra - his dad Benny, his mum Yvonne, and Australian sporting legend Cathy Freeman.

As a kid Mills used to watch the Olympics and pretend to swim across the lounge room floor, before finishing the day with a flag ceremony in the backyard.

He always dreamed of competing on the biggest stage, and now he wants to inspire the next wave of youngsters all around the country to do the same.

"You get to this point, and basketball is basketball and it's work. I love doing it but it's not going to be around forever and I understand that," Mills said.

"To come back and spend some good quality time here, and see the next generation of kids coming through, making sure they understand the process and journey of what it takes to achieve some big things."

Being recognised as the NAIDOC person of the year is proof Mills has never forgotten his roots - born and bred in Canberra to a Torres Strait Islander father and an Aboriginal mother, he's as proud as they come.

When the Spurs won the NBA championship in 2014 they gathered around the trophy in their white tee-shirts that read "Champions".

Amongst all the white was a speck of green and blue - the Torres Strait Island flag draped over Mills' shoulders.

In the biggest moment of his career, he was never going to forget to pay tribute to his heritage - and the importance of culture is a key theme in his books.

"I think it's important for everyone to understand that if you have a background and culture... to really use that as motivation to fuel the fire," Mills said.

"It brings meaning to what you do. It's not just sports - whether it's in the classroom, in the office or whatever it may be - it just brings passion and excitement out when there's meaning behind it."

This story NBA star Patty Mills more than a kid with a dream first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.