Shooting hoops and sharing life-changing nuggets of wisdom were on the agenda when Tauranga Intermediate School pupils were treated to a visit from the United States Ambassador on Monday.
Tauranga Intermediate principal Brian Diver said Ambassador Scott Brown was "blown away" by the "magnificent" full school assembly welcoming him to the school.
The ceremony was jam-packed with performances from the school's kapa haka group, Pasifika team, the AIMS Games hip-hop troupe, the school choir and rock band.
In return, Brown shared his personal story and some words of wisdom with the youngsters, before jumping on the basketball court to play ball with the school's AIMS Games gold medal-winning Huskies basketball team.
Diver said Brown, who is US Ambassador to New Zealand and the Independent State of Samoa, was a success story because his younger years were rocky due to an unstable family situation where both parents divorced multiple times.
"As a child, he came from the wrong side of the tracks," he said.
Deputy principal Cameron Mitchell said some of the youngsters could relate to Brown's personal history and absorbed his message of making important decisions to get on the right path of life.
"They were able to connect with his story of growing up and having a rough childhood," he said.
The special visit came about after the US Embassy contacted Diver asking if the ambassador could visit the school.
An avid basketball fan, Brown had noticed the school's sporting successes.
Mitchell said Brown was so impressed by the school rock band that he even "loosely" invited them to play at the US Embassy for Fourth of July celebrations next year.