American basketball star and domestic violence survivor Ruthie Bolton today shared her life story - and showed some rising Kiwi players some new tricks - at an event in Auckland.
Bolton - a two-time Olympic gold medal-winner - headlined an event put on by Shine; a specialist family violence charity.
The 90-minute event took place at Tamaki College, south Auckland.
Bolton shared her story, before leading a series of basketball skills.
"My message is one of hope for children. To encourage them to believe in themselves," she said.
"I use basketball as a platform and as a tool to help children learn about themselves, learn about discipline, overcome challenges and to teach them that they can do whatever they want to do in life.
"I want women to know that even though I've been on a bigger stage, to me, my game right now is the game of life, and my focus is to be proactive and to talk about domestic violence and to let women know that my arms are around you. You have to be able to love yourself first."
She added she had been impressed with some of the young basketball talent on display.
"I've seen some stars here," she said.
"Some of the girls especially have had great skill work. I love their passion and their energy. They are very coachable. They've empowered me and I feel blessed to have been here."
As well as being an two-time Olympic champion, Bolton's playing achievements also include being a former USA Basketball Female Player of the Year and a Sports Illustrated Best Woman Athlete of the Year.
She overcame domestic violence to still thrive on the sporting scene.
Her life story has been the subject of a critically acclaimed ESPN Films production, Mighty Ruthie.
She is now become a global advocate for women.
"If I am only remembered for being a basketball player, I believe that I will have failed in my job on this planet," she has previously said.
Bolton's visit to New Zealand is part of a US Department of State Sports Envoy programme, where US embassies around the world host American athletes or coaches to conduct clinics and meet local communities.
>> Shine's toll-free national Helpline is 0508 744 633. It also has a website: www.2shine.org.nz
Shine's Shine in School programme educates students to become champions of change by promoting safe and healthy relationships, and supports today's young people to become a generation that stands up against family violence.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
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OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
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