It’s hard to believe it now, but Damian Lillard, the cold-blooded assassin with five signature shoes to his name, was once just a regular kid from Oakland. He didn’t get the all-out recruiting blitz from high-powered universities like Duke or Kansas. He was a two-star recruit that couldn’t find any playing time at powerhouse St. Joseph Notre Dame high school. After excelling at Oakland High, Dame eventually got a scholarship offer from little known Weber State.
In college, Damian Lillard continued to fly under the radar (in adidas shoes) as his Wildcats never made the NCAA tournament over his tenure.
Trust the Process
He ended up averaging 24.5 points a game during his final year at Weber State, which raised a few eyebrows. Scouting reports did mention his lack of “big-stage” credentials, but the kid from Oakland figured he could prove the doubters wrong through throughout the draft process. He started getting mentorship from Oakland native, Gary Payton, who saw the work ethic in Lillard. At the NBA Draft combine, Damian showed his competitive nature while knocking down jumpers left and right – all while many of the other draft hopefuls sat out of the drills. “I’m from Oakland. I’m not scared of anybody,” he said at the time. “So I felt like showing up to Chicago to sit would be pointless.”
After Lillard’s college career, some projected his draft placement somewhere late in the first round. After impressing at team workouts, Lillard eventually went 6th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft to the Portland Trail Blazers. When it was time to select his number, Lillard had no hesitation in picking number 0. This links to his underdog attitude, but also looks like the letter O, with his basketball career going from Oakland to Ogden (Weber) to Oregon.
Zero is Hero
Since being drafted, Lillard has shown that zero is definitely the hero, hitting clutch 4th quarter shots throughout his career. When opposing teams call timeouts to comprehend Dame’s crunch time shot, you can often see the Letter O point to his wrist, signalling that it’s Lillard Time/ Dame Time. These moments and Lillard’s underdog story really showcases his brand-ability, alongside his media presence as rapper Dame Dolla. This likeability combined with Lillard’s deep-range shooting, stepback moves, and deceptive quickness quickly caught the eye of adidas. Despite Lillard rocking Jordans in his branded “License to Lillard” youtube series, the brand quickly signed Lillard in 2012 and he has been rocking shoes with the three stripes ever since. Check below for the biggest highlights and moments of Lillard’s career, alongside the adidas shoes that Lillard rocked along the way.