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Blazers star Damian Lillard reveals inspiring words his father told him on draft night

Damian Lillard, Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has shown basketball fans a spectacular display of scoring and leadership since he was drafted sixth overall in 2012.

Lillard won Rookie of the Year and has since become a five-time All-Star — a feat only one other player in Trail Blazers franchise history (Clyde Drexler) has achieved.

In a recent conversation with Jason Quick of The Athletic, the Blazers star fondly recalled the inspiring words his father gave him as he started his professional basketball career:

“The night I got drafted, my dad congratulated me and said ‘Now you are in the NBA and you are in [a] position where you can pick up other people,’… He said, ‘So don’t just think of it as you are a basketball player. You can be bigger. This is bigger than you.’”

Apart from his father’s words, Lillard also heeded the teachings of his closest aunt, Vanessa:

“My Aunt Van always reminds me of this; she says it all the time: ‘Our gifts are not given to us for us. They are given to us to share with others,’” Lillard said. “I take that kind of stuff to heart.”

So far, the moving words from Lillard’s closest mentors have translated to his performance with the Blazers. Many of his teammates have already lauded Lillard’s leadership on and off the court, including Hassan Whiteside, Nassir Little, and Jusuf Nurkic

Over his career, Lillard has averaged 24.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. His leadership will be crucial in the Blazers’ bid for the final spot at the playoffs. They stand in ninth place at 29-37 in the Western Conference.

Lillard and the Blazers are set to begin their NBA restart on Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies, the team they’re chasing for the No. 8 spot. Don’t count Portland out.