Australia's 3x3 talisman Greg Hire inspires through tough life lessons in new fight against mental illness
23 Apr 2020
PERTH (Australia) – Long before becoming a 3x3 ambassador in Australia, Greg Hire's life spiraled out of control during a troubled youth.
Incredibly tall from an early age, Hire was able to get into night spots as a teenager leading to underage drinking, dabbling in drugs and antisocial behavior.
"I had a tough upbringing," Hire says. "My mom came from Hungary. We lived in a refugee institution where she didn’t speak a lick of English.
"My mom did a tremendous job but she was a single mom," he added. “Unfortunately for a period of my time I went down a wrong path. Something I'm obviously not proud of."
Bigger and taller than his peers, Hire had been a gifted athlete as a youngster but his talent was clearly being squandered.
After receiving some home truths from mentors, Hire turned his life around leading to a highly successful career in Australia's NBL where he won four championships with the Perth Wildcats.
After clinching his final title in a fairy tale swansong, Hire's focus quickly turned to 3x3 and helping Australia qualify for last year's FIBA 3x3 World Cup. “I wanted to be on this team and playing for Australia on the international stage,” he says.
"The comradery and brotherhood that comes with playing for Australia is quite immense," he added. "The way we play on the court is quite passionate and emotional."
The strapping 6ft 7in (2.01m) Hire made an immediate impact with his physicality, defensive versatility and rebounding prowess suited to 3x3. He played a key role in Australia qualifying for the World Cup and was the backbone behind the team's triumph at the FIBA 3x3 Asia Cup in China.
The 32-year-old has quickly developed a deep connection with 3x3. "It has revitalized me both on and off the court," he says. "The beauty of 3x3 format is everyone is involved. You can't hide.
"In basketball, sometimes I would stand in the corner and not touch the ball," he added. "With 3x3 you have to play every single possession."
His natural passion makes him an ideal ambassador in Australia, where 3x3 is starting to gain popularity. “It's a new platform in Australia,” Hire says. “I'm excited to see the potential and the growth of the game in Australia. I'm already seeing the growth around the world."
3x3 in Australia appears to be in safe hands with the determined Hire, who has never shied away from his early struggles in life. Hire has won advocacy awards in Perth through his charity A Stitch in Time supporting at-risk youth through programs teaching them resilience and providing mentoring programs for mental health.
"We can all make a difference in each other’s lives."
"I’ve founded my own charity and it focuses on mental health and mentoring," Hire says. "It’s becoming more of an issue in Australia and around the world. I self-funded a trip to the Kimberly (northern Western Australia). The world works in magnificent ways, things happen for a reason. Upon organizing my travel arrangements, unfortunately a 10-year-old girl took her life in the region and I still can’t fathom how that happened. I’m a proud father of two and I couldn’t understand how a young girl at that age believed the best possible solution was to take her own life."
"I made it my passion and responsibility to really impact the community and assist any way I could," he adds. "Whether that’s financial or providing resources or engaging with psychologists to help out in that community," he says.
"I don’t want lives lost to suicide. I think it is something that we can change. Awareness is there but education is paramount. To have a profile whether it’s on social media or getting out to schools and sporting groups, if I can engage in those communities and educate them about the importance of mental health and what we can do to improve our own mental health condition. You don’t have to be a trained psychologist to ask your friend whether they are ok and to check on them. The biggest thing is you can ask a question and evoke a conversation…so many times people just want to talk and be listened to. And not have an opinion judged on them. Everyone has the ability to do that."
Rest assured that Hire will be aiming to make a similar splash with 3x3 Down Under. "I'm loving the whole concept and the format," he says. "If I can lead on that front like I have with my own endeavors then I will continue doing so."