WALTHAM -- Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass knows that, because he's an NBA player, kids tend to look up at him . . . literally and figuratively.
But as powerful an influence as his day job may be, Bass learning how to swim at the age of 28 might be even more inspirational.
The swimming lessons he receives not only benefit him personally, but they serve as a teaching moment in how anyone -- young, old, or even a physically gifted professional athlete like Bass -- can overcome their fears.
Bass said he initially got involved to raise awareness of the need for young, inner-city children to learn how to swim while learning how to swim himself.
He has a 3-year-old son (Brandon Jr.) who can swim, and an infant daughter (Bella) who is taking lessons.
As much as Bass wants to learn for them, he soon realized that his involvement could have an greater impact.
But to do so, it would require him to open himself up in a way that few athletes ever do so publicly.
"I didn't see it as a problem," Bass told CSNNE.com. "I saw it as me not knowing how to swim and willing to learn. More important, I use myself, being vulnerable with myself, to help others. If I'm not scared to come out and say, 'I don't know how to swim,' I think kids or even their parents won't be afraid to say they don't know how to swim."
Tatiana Snegour has been Bass' swim instructor since September.
She normally works with children, so the size differential has taken some getting used to.
But with that increased size has come a greater sense of focus and purpose on the part of her 6-foot-8, 260-pound pupil.
"He really takes it seriously and accepts the challenge and really tries to follow my instructions very well," Snegour told Comcast SportsNet.
And that, she says, has made working with Bass so satisfying for her.
"I really like how he accepts my directions and he tries to follow my instructions precisely," she said.
One of the first lessons Bass has learned, and is most proud of, is that he has learned how to properly use his arms and feet in the water.
And while basketball and swimming may seem like two completely separate worlds, Bass said there are some similarities for him.
"When my shot is going, it's very smooth. And that's how I should be in the water," he grins.
Bass is indeed a work in progress towards being "smooth" in the water.
But he's making strides, the kind that he hopes will give young people another reason to look up to and be inspired by him.
To find out more about Brandon Bass learning how to swim, tune into Celtics Insider on Saturday, February 8, at 6:30 p.m.