NEW YORK, May 21, 2021– Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has received the April NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente in recognition of his continued efforts to empower young people across Portland, the NBA today announced. Each month the award recognizes a player who best reflects the passion that the league and NBA players share for giving back to their communities.
Since arriving in Portland in 2012, Lillard has focused on investing in and mentoring local high school-aged youth through his RESPECT program that supports, encourages and celebrates three Portland-area high schools – McDaniel, Parkrose and Roosevelt. This year amidst the global pandemic and the new virtual learning environment, RESPECT adjusted to maintain engagement with the students. Lillard committed to video visits to keep in contact with participants remotely and highlighted students and teachers that exemplified the principles of the program through his social media platforms. As schools returned to in-person learning, he provided RESPECT branded face masks for students and staff participating in the programs.
Lillard debuted a special RESPECT edition of his signature Dame7 shoe exclusively for the students in the program. The 500 pairs produced incorporated McDaniel, Parkrose and Roosevelt school colors and featured the three RESPECT principles: Show Up, Work Hard, and Be Kind. Lillard gifted the shoes to RESPECT’s partner schools to reward students who are living out each principle and wore the sneakers several times during the season. In addition to RESPECT, he continued his role as ambassador for the Moda Assist Program in partnership with Moda Health and the Trail Blazers, which donates $20 per assist made during the season to fund the development of all-ability inclusive playgrounds throughout the state of Oregon. This year, the city of Astoria has been selected to receive funds to help build an all-abilities playground and enhance their community.
The six-time NBA All-Star was presented with the award during a special virtual ceremony with league, Kaiser Permanente and Trail Blazers officials on May 19. In addition, Kaiser Permanente and the NBA will donate $10,000 on his behalf to Special Olympics Oregon.
“It’s an honor to receive the NBA Cares Community Assist Award,” said Lillard. “From a young age, my mom and dad taught me about the value of giving back and lifting up others. I’ve been involved with Special Olympics since high school and I’m proud to serve in my role as a Global Ambassador for the organization. Special Olympics is a deserving recipient of this donation as they continue to create a better world of acceptance and inclusion for all people."
Lillard has been a Global Ambassador for Special Olympics since 2013, but his support of the organization dates to his teenage years. Now as a Global Ambassador, Lillard has participated in numerous Special Olympics events during NBA All-Star over the past several years, has served as an honorary coach at the Special Olympics USA Games and World Games and supports all Special Olympics social media campaigns. With Special Olympics Oregon, Lillard has shown consistent support for the local community through hosting basketball camps and participation in fundraising events.
The NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente recognizes an NBA player each month who best reflects the passion that the league and its players share for giving back to their communities. It honors the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson, who improved the community piece by piece. At the end of the 2020-21 regular season, the Season-long NBA Cares Community Assist Award winner will be announced. To learn more, please visit http://www.nba.com/communityassist/.