Meng Fei, 24, never completed his high school studies, and decided to volunteer at basketball courts five years ago, after moving to the city of Shenzhen in search of a better life.
His animated displays while wiping up the players' sweat earnt him a following, and the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) eventually asked him to volunteer in the country's professional league.
Videos of Mr Meng wiping the floors at breakneck speed during CBA games went viral on Chinese social media, and local newspapers have given him the nickname "Floor Rubbing Brother" in recognition of his diligence.
It's a big change from his troubled teenage years, which saw him run away from home when he was 15 years old to join the famous Shaolin Monastery, and later the army.
"My father was very traditional, tough and violent, always beat me up if I couldn't study well," Mr Meng told the ABC.
He said he dreams of one day being able to clean the court at an NBA game, and has been actively trying to make that dream a reality.
He has even asked former NBA player Wang Zhizhi, the first Chinese athlete to be drafted into the American league, to help him out.
"Staff from the NBA's Beijing office have contacted me, and told me that they noticed me for some time," Mr Meng said.
An NBA spokesperson confirmed that the Beijing office reached out to Mr Meng to learn more about his story.
While Mr Meng said there are no plans for him to volunteer with the NBA at the moment, he has been learning English just in case he gets the call up.
As a volunteer, Mr Meng received a $20 allowance every match — but after appearing on a Chinese job-seeking reality television show, Mr Meng is now employed by a tech company on a $39,700 annual salary.
He said his greatest achievement so far has been wiping floors at last year's CBA All-Star game, China's equivalent to the NBA All-Star game.
"I am a person who would like to create opportunities for myself, because nobody could and would do that for me," Mr Meng said.