The game of politics is nothing new to Gareth Ward - the Kiama MP has spent almost all of his adult life in either local or state government.
This week Mr Ward stepped down from his ministerial role after news emerged that he was being investigated over historical allegations of sexual violence-related offences.
He has denied any wrongdoing and said he had no knowledge of any investigation.
Read more: Gareth Ward steps aside, denies allegations
Born with ocular coetaneous albinism, which has rendered him legally blind since birth, Mr Ward said in his maiden parliamentary speech that doctors told his parents "You'll need to keep him in the dark and behind closed doors".
That didn't happen - at age two he started to learn the violin and, in his teens would play in jazz bands in pubs.
In his teens Mr Ward also became involved in politics. In 1997, at age 16 he joined the Shoalhaven Young Liberals and was president three years later.
While also studying for his HSC, the 18-year-old Bomaderry High School student made his first tilt at politics in 1999, running as an independent (on the same ticket as his mother) for Shoalhaven Council.
"I believe it is time to bring a balance to the chamber with someone who is younger and can speak not only for younger people but for all in the community," he said.
He got a taste of the rough side of politics in that campaign when the election posters he paid $400 for were all ripped down within hours of them being put up around Bomaderry.
His next run at the local council was more successful; in 2004 he would become a councillor and remain there for eight years, serving as Deputy Mayor for two of those years.
While serving on council, Mr Ward looked to step up to state parliament in 2011, challenging sitting Labor MP Matt Brown for the seat of Kiama. Mr Ward won the seat and became a government MP when the Liberal-National Coalition won the election.
In 2015, then Premier Mike Baird axed the Minister for the Illawarra position, demoting it to a Parliamentary Secretary role, and then appointed Mr Ward. He would serve in that role until 2019, while also picking up the duties of Parliamentary Secretary for Education in 2017.
Since being elected in 2011, there would be some notable achievements on Mr Ward's CV. Among those was the construction of the Berry bypass - Mr Ward said part of the reason he wanted to enter state parliament was to stop people dying in accidents along that stretch of the Princes Highway.
He also saw the funding and construction of the Albion Park Rail bypass.
He petitioned his own government to retain the aeromedical rescue helicopter at Albion Park Rail in 2013. Mr Ward would also push for extra carriages on South Coast trains coming from Sydney and an extra express stop at Austinmer to counter criticism of the government's revised rail timetable.
During the contentious council amalgamations saga in 2016, Mr Ward spoke out against plans to amalgamate Kiama and Shoalhaven councils - which were later dropped by the government.
But his time as an MP has also come with some controversy. In 2018 he was the subject of protest over plans to build a jail in West Dapto and faced claims he "verbally abused" a female protester. "I deny emphatically," Mr Ward said in response, "the claim that I yelled or bullied anybody at that meeting."
Mr Ward would have regular spats with Shellharbour MP Anna Watson, labelling her a "muppet" the "most ... lazy member of the NSW Parliament" and the "most personally vindictive member of the NSW Parliament".
In turn Ms Watson had called Mr Ward "a dill", "a free range chicken", "a puffed-up peacock" and one of "Kiama's two blowholes".
Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis raised serious allegations in federal parliament in 2018, alleging he engaged in "bullying, betrayal and backstabbing".
"This is not the first time Gareth has flexed his vengeance on strong Liberal women," Ms Sudmalis said. "He doesn't just get even, he annihilates anyone who opposes him."
Mr Ward angrily refuted the claims, saying "I know what it's like to be bullied. I might be lots of things, but I'm not a bully".
Outside of the political arena, Mr Ward found himself in the spotlight in 2017 over an alleged blackmail attempt by two men while he was on holidays in New York.
After booking in a massage, Mr Ward said the men came to his hotel room, started filming him and demanded money.
Last year, Mr Ward was found by police walking naked in the hallway outside his Potts Point apartment.
The Kiama MP stated it was due to being "disorientated" after a surgical procedure earlier that day.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian stood by her minister then, though it remains to be seen what the future holds for Mr Ward's political career.