Photo by Bruce Ely
There are few things in life that are as big of an accomplishment as becoming one of the top players in the NBA. But for Damian Lillard, fatherhood is. “It’s changed me as a person in that I just don’t carry stuff like I used to.” Lillard said in an interview with Paul Flannery of SB nation, “If I have a bad game and on TV they’re like, Dame went 6-for-20 and they lost. I’m just like, you know, whatever. It’s ok, bro. You know what I’m saying?”
Lillard’s son, Dame Jr, turns 2 years old today and he’s already a frequent presence in the Moda Center. He’s walked the tunnel with his dad, spent time on the sidelines and even on the floor during pregame shoot around.
In the same interview with SB nation, Lillard told Flannery, “The hardest part for me is where my career is, it requires me to be away a lot, not being able to be there all the time. Obviously, I’m there a lot. We spend a lot of time at home and then we’ve got the summer. Most parents are able to be with their kid every day. Every day of their life their parents have an opportunity to be with them and we don’t have that luxury as professional athletes. That’s the hardest thing.” Lillard seems to have taken every chance he can to have his son with him while playing at home before the postponement of the NBA season due to COVID-19. But in an unprecedented season that’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions, often not such happy ones, Dame Jr has been a consistent bright spot for fans as well.
During the Jan. 13 game against Charlotte, Dame Jr stole the show, and just about broke the internet. Fans were raving over the little boy as he laughed and ran around the court with his dad closely on his heels. “This twitter page is now a Dame Jr fan page, and I don’t think anyone minds one bit!!.” Twitter user @itsjesseb_ commented when the Trail Blazers official twitter account posted video of the little boy. From the tunnel, to the court, to the post game interview, Dame Jr. was the true star of the show.
The magnitude of growing up with a famous NBA star for a father may be lost on the now 2 year old, and maybe he will never step foot on a basketball court wearing his own jersey. But chances are, it’s in his DNA.
We have seen it before. In fact, we are seeing It right now. Gary Trent Jr follows in the footsteps of his father, Gary Trent Sr who played Power Forward for the Trail Blazers from 1995-1998. In Portland, basketball isn’t just a sport. It’s not just a career. It’s a family.
For a player like Lillard, who was drafted by Portland in 2012 with the 6th overall pick, Portland is the end all. It’s where he plans to stay, and Portland fans love him for It. Not only because of his incredible skill and the way he leads the Trail Blazers, but because of his dedication to the team, to the fans, and to the city.
There’s something about Portland that brings players home. Many retired Trail Blazers have planted themselves in Portland. Notably Jerome Kersey, Terry Porter, Chris Dudley, Steve Blake, Channing Frye, Antonio Harvey, Michael Holton, Damon Stoudamire, Terelle Brandon, Terrence Ross, Terrance Jones. Even following his recent signing with the Orlando Magic, former Blazers wing, Al Farouq Aminu kept his house in Portland and has returned on a few occasions this year while he rehabs from knee surgery.
With all the chaos surrounding the NBA, and the world right now, Dame Jr continues to be a sweet little bright spot for Trail Blazers fans. Lately, he's been the star of many of Lillard's Instagram posts and Live Streams, and we are here for it.
It might be too early to hope that the Trail Blazers choose Dame Jr as their 2039 draft pick, but Blazers fans are already thinking about the possibility. It’s hard not to after seeing what a natural he is.
For now, as we await the return of the NBA and all of our favorite Blazers, we are wishing a happy, healthy second birthday to Dame Jr!
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