Most of us might struggle to believe that, at 2.1 metres tall, Steven Adams was scared of anyone.
But Glenda Parks, his "school mum" at Scots College in Wellington, terrorised him as she chased him around the school demanding his homework.
Now the rising basketball star is fully funding a scholarship at the school to give other boys the chance to be scared into success, the way he was.
"I just want to give another kid the same opportunities I had at a great school," said Adams, 21, who has just completed his first season in the NBA with Oklahoma City Thunder on NZ$2.6 million a year.
The scholarship - which could amount to more than $240,000 - will be awarded to a young New Zealander who shows exceptional skills in basketball and is identified as having character traits also associated with Adams: determination, commitment and humility among them.
His coach, Kenny McFadden, will help with scouting the basketball talent and, as part of the scholarship, the recipient will become part of McFadden's academy.
Adams, who went to Scots on a scholarship in 2008, said he would never have fulfilled his dream of playing professional basketball without help from Parks, the learning support head teacher, and the "solid learning environment" at the school.
He said he found out just in time that education was important.
He credited Parks with keeping him on the straight and narrow, but she says it was his "motivation and drive" that built his success.
Headmaster Graham Yule said Adams was lazy when he first arrived at Scots. "He didn't see the need for school and he just wanted to play basketball, but he's actually a really bright guy.
"Steven's successful because he works hard, and everyone loves him because he has a good character."
Adams started basketball training when he was 13 and said, even then, he had to play catch-up. "The earlier they start the better.
"I'll definitely be around as much as I can for these kids. I want them to understand the opportunities they're getting."
Steven Adams' basketball scholarship could end up costing him more than $240,000.
Tuition for seven years from the start of year 7 until the end of year 13 would cost $133,212.
All pupils must pay $819 for Parents' Association and Old Boys levies to cover that seven years.
Boarders for seven years would pay an extra $85,232, and seven-day boarders an extra $109,928.
There is a one-off $155 application fee, a $380 acceptance fee and an refundable education bond of $1000.
Other costs involved with the basketball academy could also be covered by Adams.
Source: Scots College
- The Dominion Post