Anzac Rissetto ready to inspire in NBL after 'angry childhood'

Victor Waters
Source: Te Karere

Anzac Rissetto comes from Māori sporting royalty.

A descendent of one of the founding fathers of NZ rugby, Thomas Ellison, he's also related to Tamati Ellison and former NFL star Riki Ellison.

But while he might be draped in Māori sporting history, Rissetto is set on creating his own legacy in a different arena - basketball.

The 21-year-old will line up for the Franklin Bulls this season in the NBL, representing the region he grew up in.

"Growing up in South Auckland wasn't easy, it was quite hard for me," said Rissetto.

"But coming home and representing the community I came from is quite special and important for me.

"It gives hope to the kids that were in the same position I was in."

Anzac Rissetto in action for the Franklin Bulls.

That position saw him develop what he calls an "angry childhood".

Growing up without his father and approached by gangs, it was his mother who lead him towards basketball and put him on the straight and narrow.

"Yeah, I get quite emotional when I talk about my mum but, she got me to where I am today, that's it," he said.

"The world I lived in was one that not many get to see and I hope a lot of young kids don't get to see it.

"I was a scared little kid and I grew up to be this big human and I evolved into my form."

His story is similar to that of his mentor, Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams.

Steven Adams.

Rissetto took part in one of Adams' camps three years ago, with the experience a life-changing one that helped earn him a scholarship to Charlotte University in the USA.

Along with his Kiwi roots, his similar size also led to comparisons to Adams.

The 20cm (6'10) forward has since returned from Charlotte to pursue a professional basketball career closer to home.

He hopes to use that giant frame to good use in the NBL this season.

"I think It's influenced my style of play a lot, I'm a big physical presence on the court. I like to make other people's lives difficult, you could be more than me less than me I'm going to make your life difficult."

Every time he steps on to the court this season, it'll be another reminder of how far he's come and maybe a step closer to the NBA.