Brad Ness

Red Dust Heelers DOB: 24 Nov 1974 Class: 4.5 Position: Centre Number: 15





A towering presence in Australian wheelchair basketball, Brad captained the Australian Rollers to their gold medal in Beijing and silver medal in London. He is one of the few Paralympic athletes to make a living out of his sport and plays wheelchair basketball professionally in Italy, where he lives with his wife for most of the year.

Brad was a sports-mad teenager who excelled in swimming, tennis, hurdles and his favourite code, AFL. As a teenager, he worked as a deckhand aboard a high-speed ferry between Rottnest Island and Fremantle, before losing his leg when he was 18.

“We were preparing to leave the pier when the skipper thought he heard me calling ‘all clear’, but the rope I was attending was still attached to the quayside. When the ferry moved out, the rope tightened and sliced off my right ankle as neatly as a chef chopping through a carrot.”

Although Brad attempted to go back to playing AFL with a prosthetic, it wasn’t long before the course of his life changed when he was introduced to wheelchair basketball through Paralympic legend Bill Nathan Brown. Having seen a photo of Brad playing AFL in the West Australian, Bill persistently rang Brad’s house until he agreed to meet him and give the sport a go.

The same year, the Mandurah native debuted for WA, and at the 1999 Roosevelt Cup, played his first game for Australia and set the scene for a decorated career. In 2000, he was awarded a sporting scholarship by the University of Texas and went on to play in the Italian Series A league. In 2007, he was awarded the Sandy Blythe Medal for International Wheelchair Basketball Player of the Year.

As captain of the team, Brad has lead the team to two silver medals and one gold medal as well as the 2010, 2013 and 2014 World Championship titles and the 2009 and 2011 Asia Oceania Regional Championship titles. Under his leadership, he has instilled the Rollers “honeybadger” team ethos and has built impenetrable team unity and culture.

Post-London, Brad’s Paralympic medals were stolen when his house was robbed in Italy. He has since been given another set thanks to the Australian Paralympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee.

Away from competitive wheelchair basketball, Brad has set up two mini basketball teams for kids with disabilities in Cantu and Roma, and also works with the Outback Academy and the Red Dust Heelers to promote social inclusion and give opportunities to Indigenous Australians with and without disabilities.

When Brad is not training, he can be found managing his thriving pizza restaurant Magna Pizza in Fremantle with his wife, or enjoying water sports at the beach.