Star point guard Damian Lillard has developed into one of the NBA’s top point guards. Lillard has become the face of the franchise for the Portland Trail Blazers. He guided the organization to much success in his first several years in the league. However, all that nearly changed before it all began in what could have seen his life taken from him.
Damian Lillard’s rise to NBA stardom
Damian Lillard entered the NBA with plenty of promise as he put forth an impressive collegiate career at Weber State.
It didn’t take long for Lillard to find success in the NBA as he has developed into one of the best point guards. He’s among the league’s top scorers that have helped earn him five All-Star selections, an All-NBA First Team nod, two All-NBA Second Team nominations, and an All-NBA Third Team nod. Lillard has firmly become the face of the franchise in Portland while being the guiding force to making them a playoff constant.
The 30-year-old has worked his way toward being second in team history in scoring behind Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler and first in made 3-pointers. Lillard has many productive campaigns ahead, but it all nearly stopped before it ever began over a decade ago.
Damian Lillard’s near-death experience
Damian Lillard has put forth an impressive start to his NBA career that has earned tremendous recognition. However, his life could have taken a drastically different turn during his youth.
Lillard grew up in Oakland, California, which hasn’t garnered the best reputations due to crime and gang violence. That led to him nearly losing his life in a scary incident as he waited for the bus as he was robbed at gunpoint, which he discussed on his song Roll Call. (H/T NBA Mixes)
In the song Roll Call on his rap album The Letter O, Lillard references an event where he almost ended up shot in the head during a 2008 robbery by three men who attacked him as he was waiting for the bus after practice. Trying to fight off the assailants as Dame did greatly increases the chances of death, so D.O.L.L.A was lucky to not lose his life.
That could have seen things go down a life-changing path had the incident transpired differently. It’s a situation that has had a significant impact on Lillard’s life and outlook. He has made the most of the opportunities that have come to him over the last decade-plus that has seen him become a star NBA player.
Lillard remains quite prideful of where he came from and how that has shaped him as a person. His connection to his hometown has seen him give back to his community over the years, which earned him the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award last season. He helped create the RESPECT program, which focuses on anti-bullying efforts, increasing attendance, and generating a positive environment for high school students.
Although he experienced some personal difficulties, it hasn’t wavered his commitment to helping his community.
Blazers’ bright future ahead
The path to the NBA has had some hardships, but Damian Lillard has pushed himself into a promising spot.
Lillard has fully embraced being the driving force for the Trail Blazers behind his five-year, $139.8 million deal. Although his contract expires after next season, the 30-year-old continues to voice the desire to remain with the franchise. Portland has put forth a solid core group with C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, a resurgent Carmelo Anthony, and Zach Collins.
With Lillard heading the charge, Portland will continue to vie for the playoffs and potentially more for years to come.