11.18.17

Damian Lillard: Lessons From Oakland

Damian Lillard has developed a reputation as one of the game’s most clutch players. When the game’s on the line, he’s the one that all of his teammates turn toward. He’s the superstar – the unquestioned face of Portland’s franchise. But he started out as just a kid from Oakland. And it’s the lessons he learned there that made him into the man he is today.

Lesson 1: Be Accountable In Everything You Do

Nobody becomes successful by taking shortcuts.  Lillard’s parents instilled a high level of accountability in him as a kid and he’s never looked back. When he was younger, that meant simple things: doing the dishes before bed, raising his hand in class, and keeping his grades up.

It also made him into a better basketball player. He touched the baseline on every sprint, he always repped out extra sets in the gym, and he always stayed late to get up extra shots.

“That’s something that quietly separated me,” Lillard said. “I held myself to a higher standard. A lot of that came from my parents. Over time, I learned to own that and do it by myself.”

EWR7 Blog Lillard 2

Lesson 2: Lead By Example

Being a leader isn’t always easy or glamourous. The role comes with high expectations, pressure-packed situations, and a lot of hard work. You’re the one that has to take responsibility not only for yourself, but for the whole team.

“It’s a little bit of pressure, but I embrace it,” Lillard said. “It’s just who I am. I actually enjoy it.”

He likes to lead by example, showing his teammates that he’s putting in the time and effort and encouraging them to do the same.

“I make sure that I take care of my own stuff. I’m on time to the gym. I work hard. I’m coachable. I show my teammates that I have their back. Now I can hold the other guys accountable because they see me doing the same thing that I’m asking of them.”

EWR7 Blog Lillard 1

Lesson 3: Be Who You Are

Damian Lillard isn’t trying to be the next anyone. He’s only interested in being the first Damian Lillard. He’s got a unique game, a unique personality, and he embraces that. It helps him shine on and off the court. He doesn’t let himself get boxed in. It’s why he’s widely considered the best athlete-rapper in the game.

Dame D.O.L.L.A. got his start in church choirs before making songs as a hobby in high school and college, and eventually seriously pursuing music once he made it to the league.

“I think the music thing comes from Oakland,” Lillard said. “It’s a part of the culture I was raised in. It just became a part of me.”

EWR7 Blog Lillard 3

Lesson 4: Always Give Back To Where You Came From

Lillard always embraces his Oakland roots. From his signature shoes to his music, he always makes sure to rep the place that made him who he is today.

“It’s different growing up in Oakland,” Lillard said. “I think you take a lot of pride and toughness in that – just the culture we have here. A lot of successful people came from here and you just want to be the next person to make it out.”

Lillard lives in Portland year-round now, but his heart is always at least partly in his hometown. Damian Lillard has done a lot to give back to his community, ranging from building a recording studio in his old school to putting on a show with hip-hop stars Fetty Wap and Lil Uzi Vert as a reward for students with good behavior.

“For me, it means a lot to be able to do stuff for the community. I think more than just doing stuff financially, it’s about your presence. As a kid, I always wanted that presence from the people I looked up to. I wanted them to come back. So now I want them to have access to me. Stuff like that is what counts.”

Check out more about Damian Lillard, including a look at his newest signature shoe, the adidas Dame 4 here.

Author:
BIL Look Back Featured

Trae Young, LiAngelo Ball, Collin Sexton: A Look Back At The 2017 Ballislife All-American Game

Top recruits like Trae Young, LiAngelo Ball, Collin Sexton, and Jaylen Hands tore up the 2017 Ballislife All-American Game. Read more:

TW Awards Featured

Eastbay End-Of-Season Twitter Awards

With the 2018 playoffs tipping off, we thought we’d take a look back at some of those random moments from throughout the season that blew up Twitter.

The AAU Sullivan Award: Another Winner Will Be Crowned

On April 17, the 88th AAU Sullivan Award winner will be announced. This prestigious award is the perfect way to recognize the players who entertain, inspire, and motivate us the most.

Vote Now: AAU Sullivan Award Semi-Finals

Voting is now open for the 2018 AAU Sullivan Award — this is your chance to decide who is the best amateur athlete in America!

Boris Berian Featured

The Secret Behind Boris Berian’s Speed

What does it take to be the best? Talent isn’t enough. Elite coaching isn’t enough. The strictest training isn’t enough. Boris Berian has the secret.

Live At New Balance Nationals

We are live at the 2018 New Balance Nationals Indoor where the most talented high school track athletes in the nation are squaring off. Tune in here for daily updates.

Jamia Fields Training Featured

Training Tips From Pro Soccer Player Jamia Fields

Jamia Fields hasn't become a pro soccer player overnight, it's taken years of hard work. Get some training tips from the rising star.

Lauryn Williams Featured

Ask An Expert: Lauryn Williams

Want to make history on the global stage? Then you’ve got to out-train your competition. Just ask record-breaking sprinter and bobsledder Lauryn Williams. Read her story:

Sofia Huerta Featured

Sofia Huerta: Striving to Be Her Best

Eastbay cover star Sofia Huerta is more than a soccer player — she constantly strives to be her best, on and off the field.

A Recap Of LA: What Kicks Did Basketball’s Best Rock?

What were the best kicks worn in Los Angeles while the game's top players took to the court? Langston Galloway and Nightwing2303 break it all down.

EKF8 Malakai Featured

Create Your Legacy: Malakai Lewars + James Harden

Eastbay cover athlete Malakai Lewars is focused on creating his own legacy. That doesn’t mean he can’t steal some pointers from some of the game’s greatest players like James Harden, though.

James Harden On All-Star Weekend In LA, Harden Vol. 2, And More!

He's having an MVP-level season and is dropping his second signature shoe, the adidas Harden Vol. 2s — check out our Q&A with Houston star James Harden.

See More