Damian Lillard Has Endured Multiple Tragedies and Is Still Playing Like an NBA MVP

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has been cooking in the NBA. His 3-point marksmanship and finishing ability inside make the 30-year-old guard one of the best scorers in the game. With his stoic demeanor, nothing seems to faze him, even in the game’s biggest moments.

Lillard’s emotionless face has hidden a lot of the pain he’s experienced over the last year and a half. He’s been one of the league’s best players while overcoming a wave of personal tragedies.

Damian Lillard has become an NBA superstar

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Since entering the league in 2012, Damian Lillard has been an offensive juggernaut for the Portland Trail Blazers. He’s averaged 24.5 points per game while dishing out 6.6 assists over his nine-year career. Lillard’s range from deep is what makes him such a lethal scorer, as he can pull up from halfcourt with supreme confidence. The six-time All-Star put the league on notice while he was in the NBA bubble last season.

Lillard led the Trail Blazers to the postseason after being a non-playoff team coming into the bubble. He scored 33 points per game on 47% shooting from the field and 41.9% from 3-point range, according to StatMuse. His dominance in the bubble sent a message that he is one of the NBA’s elite players.

Lillard hasn’t slowed down in the 2020-21 and is still scoring on opponents with ease. He’s averaging 29.4 points a game along with eight assists this season. The All-NBA guard’s ability to come up in the clutch is what makes him so special.

Damian Lillard has become a superstar talent in the NBA and is just starting the prime of his career. Things haven’t been easy for him in recent months, as he’s had to overcome several personal tragedies while trying to play basketball at a high level.

Lillard has experienced multiple close deaths in the last 18 months

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard sits on the bench during a game
Damian Lillard has experienced multiple close deaths over the past 18 months while playing in the NBA | Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

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Damian Lillard is a very private person who doesn’t show much emotion. However, the last 18 months have been an emotional rollercoaster for him. He revealed that he’s been dealing with multiple deaths to people that were very close to him. The superstar guard dealt with a close death before his Feb. 26 game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I thought about (not playing), because mentally I was like … I don’t want to say I didn’t care because I did care,” Lillard told The Athletic. “But emotionally, I was like, whatever.”

The star guard received the news of two deaths to people who were within the guard’s inner circle before playing that game. Before that, Lillard was the first person to discover the body of his cousin, who was also his personal chef, in 2020. He also lost an aunt to cancer and another family member to COVID-19. To makes things worse, the 30-year-old lost another cousin who was killed in West Oakland in 2021.

The past year and a half have been difficult for Damian Lillard. He couldn’t even put into words how hard the last 18 months have been talking to The Athletic. Despite the numerous deaths he’s experienced, the star guard is still finding the strength to play every night from the people closest to him

Lillard finds the strength to play for the Blazers from his family

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The obstacles Damian Lillard has had to overcome in the last 18 months have been enormous. He’s lost six close members of his inner circle and still dominates the NBA on a nightly basis. Lillard said he finds the strength to play from his family and friends.

“I know that my success makes them happy. Every game we play, my whole entire family is at home watching. They don’t miss a game. I know that does something positive for them and that it means something to them,” Lillard told The Athletic.

Lillard’s willingness to be out there for his teammates while grieving multiple deaths is the ultimate sacrifice. The Blazers are in the thick of the playoff race, sitting at the fifth spot in the West with a 20-14 record.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference