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Family comes first for new ambassador

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/06/2017
Republican Senator Scott Brown. © Rex Images Republican Senator Scott Brown.

Scott Brown might have the President's ear now, getting his first pick to become New Zealand's new US Ambassador, but it's a long way from where he came from.

Even past roles as a US Senator and Judge Advocate General lawyer were a huge step up from the childhood he had - back when he accepted $20 from his high school basketball coach to clean up vomit to make money for his family.

With parents who divorced and remarried four times each, and violent and abusive step-parents, he knows what it's like to come from nothing to build a life.

In 1982 he posed naked for Cosmopolitan magazine after winning an America's Sexiest Man contest, a decision he doesn't regret because ultimately it led to him meeting his wife, television reporter Gail, and them having their daughters, Ayla and Arianna.

He was also able to pay for law school and chart the course for his future.

"Gail and I come from nothing. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be a US Senator and then to actually be the ambassador for the United States," he said days after arriving in Wellington to take up his four-year post.

If relatable is the image Mr Brown is trying to portray to New Zealanders, then it's working.

He spent day one in Wellington mountain biking, has lined up challenges with Kiwi triathletes and wants to sit down for a beer with anyone who is willing.

Less than an hour after meeting reporters for the first time he was playing Cheap Trick's Surrender on one of the electric guitars, talking about plans for his Rock Legends of America themed room.

He taught himself to play after meeting Cheap Trick's Rick Neilsen, learning so he could play with his daughter.

New Zealand was Mr Brown's first choice as ambassador when he was asked by President Donald Trump, a man he says deserves a chance.

"I would ask [Kiwis] to give him a fair go ... whether you like him or not he's a man of his word and that's one thing I've always known and respected about him," he said.

"When I look at people like the president, as I hope people look at Gail and me, I hope they look at our kids because our kids are a reflection on us and he has an amazing family."

A lot of what Mr Brown talks about comes back to families. At the end of the day he wants to have pizza and a beer and talk about his kids, because there's more to life than politics.

When he's not doing his ambassadorial duties Mr Brown wants to help people who are struggling with life, violence or childhood trauma while in New Zealand.

"It's something I can relate to, I understand. I like to play a role in sharing my story so people can maybe say, gosh, he's an ambassador, we can actually get out of this kind of cycle that we're in," he said.

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