We Know What Damian Lillard Does on the Court – Not What He Goes Through Off It

Published 03/03/2021, 4:39 PM EST
DENVER, CO – MAY 7: Damian Lillard (0) of the Portland Trail Blazers shows signs of frustration against the Denver Nuggets during the third quarter on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers in game five of the teams’ second round NBA playoff series at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)


When you think of the most under-appreciated players in the NBA today, Damian Lillard must top the list of at least a few of you. He is having an MVP-caliber season. And yet, we are not here to talk about that at this moment.

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What we want to shed light on is the wave of personal tragedy the 30-year old has gone through in the last 18 months. In 2020, he witnessed a sight that no one could even wish upon their worst enemy – he discovered the dead body of his cousin and personal chef.

DENVER, CO – MAY 7: Damian Lillard (0) of the Portland Trail Blazers shows signs of frustration against the Denver Nuggets during the third quarter on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers in game five of the teams’ second round NBA playoff series at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Though, his grief did not stop there. His aunt, a family friend, and another cousin soon followed the others to heaven.

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“It’s been a hard year and a half for my family, man. People have no idea… Not like I’m physically tired, but where I’m emotionally drained,” Dame opened up in an in-depth interview with the Athletic.

Yet it could always get worse. Unfortunately, it did for Dame. Just as he was preparing himself to play against the Lakers a few days ago, he learned of the shooting deaths of two people in his inner circle. Though, he still played on. Do you want to know the heart-warming reason why?

Jan 5, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) hits a shot over Chicago Bulls guard Garrett Temple (17) during the first half of the game at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

“I have to put those emotions to the side to care about the game and make sure I’m here for my teammates, and to do my job because my job takes care of a lot of my family. It does a lot of things for people in my family. I think understanding that is what helps me kind of push forward,” explained Lillard.

Damian Lillard is a victim of the negative money-making perception of NBA athletes

Too often, we tear these players apart for their poor showing or anything we don’t like about them. And most of the time, we try to justify our frustration by pointing out the fortune these guys make. But, is money more valuable than good health and happiness?

It not only hurts but also anger Lillard at times. He has been showing up for work and keeping his personal problems private. Yet, when he has just one bad game, others are waiting like sharks to pounce upon him.

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Dec 28, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) is defended by Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder (17) in the fourth quarter at Staples Center. The Trail Blazers defeated the Lakers 115-107. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“They think because I make money and people know who I am, and that I play in the NBA, they think that’s just it. But it’s been a hard year-and-a-half, man. Trying to keep my mind right, keep my mind clear, and staying present with my kids and family,” said Lillard.

No amount of words could really express the pain he is in. While he continues to wilfully lead Portland Trail Blazers, we just hope that things get better in his personal life.

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DIVE DEEPER

NBA Insider Brian Windhorst Has Special Words of Appreciation for Damian Lillard

3 months ago

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Bharat Aggarwal

699 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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