If it wasn't for basketball Rongo Maaka Morrell would likely be considering becoming a gang member, like most men of his family.
It's been a lifeline to a better world for Morrell, 15, whose family is steeped in gangs.
The Flaxmere teen's life is explored in a little more than six minutes as the first episode of the documentary "Beyond the Court".
The powerful episode, titled "Living the Game" has already reached more than 37,000 people on YouTube.
The series is called Beyond the Court, named because documentary maker Roshan Uelese wants to tell the stories behind the game and how it affects the lives of people who play it.
Uelese, 21, is a Flaxmere resident herself and knows all too well about Flaxmere being a hotbed of Mongrel Mob activity.
"The gang has a heavy presence in this community."
She decided to make the documentary at the end of last year. She chose basketball as a start off point because she loves the game.
"Initially I didn't want to play it but my Dad pushed me to play. I developed a love for it over time.
"I am not good at basketball. I just really like to have fun."
It was not an accident that she told Morrell's story through video.
Always into creative subjects at school, she had a hi-tech camera she had used for photography at Hastings Girls' High School.
"I've been doing weddings for people; no audio track, just video with a soundtrack behind them.
"I wanted to do more with it, something that makes a difference. I wanted to show people that it doesn't matter where you come from; you can still do great things."
She has seen first-hand the difference the game can make in the lives of kids like Morrell.
She says there is no doubt basketball is stopping him from making decisions that could have negatively affected his whole life, in particular joining the Mongrel Mob.
"Rongo was literally born into a gang, but he chose to go a different way.
"I've known the boy through basketball. I've seen him play and it is something he is good at.
"I approached him and asked him if he was comfortable with sharing his story and to my surprise he was."
His older brother Ricardo, is an active RSB (Respect Samoan Blood) gang member and in the video he laments the life he could have had.
He talks about looking up to his younger brother and wishing he could have been the role model that Rongo is to him.
Uelese said Ricardo had been in and out of "juvie".
"Like his brother, being in the gangs was inevitable but he [Morrell] went against the grain.
"His Mum wants him to be on the straight and narrow."
For Morrell basketball is a way out - a way out of trouble, out of the Flaxmere community and eventually out of New Zealand.
"I was 10 years-old when I started playing. It helped me focus on school more.
"It helped me stay out of trouble, and become a better person."
He aspires to play with the NBL and in time, with the NBA.
"I can't help my brother, he has his life and I have mine.
"I can't do much, because we hardly see other. Basketball is my sole focus."
In the video his coach said Morrell had talent.
"He is the sort of player who can generate players around him to do better."
Morrell said basketball kept him off the streets.
"Basketball is serious for me now."