Damien Lillard is quickly moving up the point guard pecking order in the NBA. And his big shot to sink the Houston Rockets Friday night only enhanced his status:
With his smooth shot and explosive leaping ability, he is one of the reasons the Portland Trailblazers have made it back to relevance. But along with the relativity comes a sense of home. If you notice, Lillard wears the number zero on his jersey. But upon further examination, the “number” means much more than meets the eye. Everyone from the casual sports follower to the die-hard sports fan may think that Lillard wears his number because it’s his favorite or he had a favorite player that wore the number. But in all actuality, Lillard does not see the number zero that we all see him wearing. Instead, he sees the letter “O”. And the letter “O” is the first letter of where Lillard is from, Oakland, California.
The second-year point guard has been special in clutch times this season. But considering where he grew up and what odds he overcame, the clutch shots seem like the easy part. Damien was barely a two star prospect after playing his high school basketball at Saint Joseph Notre Dame and Oakland High School. While trying to get better at playing sports, he also avoided the gangs and violence in his neighborhood growing up. He eventually was seen by Weber State University and got a scholarship to play basketball. And unlike a lot of players in today’s NBA, he stayed in college the entire time in order to hone his game. Making it to the NBA after being largely unnoticed on the California high school scene was nothing compared to how he defeated the odds to make it.
So many times in society, we allow the circumstances surrounding us to affect the outcome of where we end up. And while it’s true that some of the circumstances are out of our control, we cannot allow them to dictate to us how we should proceed. Hopefully young men and women will look up to what Lillard overcame to make it. When he wears the letter “O”, it reminds him of where he came from and what he did to make it. He fought the odds and is defeating them every single time he plays. And he does it wearing the pride of his hometown with him at all times.