Former Weber State University guard Damian Lillard is pushing his love for the LGBTQ community and other social issues as he plays on the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team. Lillard wore a special “Pride” colorway of his signature Adidas Dame 6 shoes during a game against the Boston Celtics.
Lillard is one of many NBA players using the league’s restart as a platform for social justice. His jersey reads “How Many More,” rather than his name, referencing Black men killed by police.
In 2017, the Blazers guard said he was the victim of anti-gay slurs after a game in Minnesota. Cellphone video showed Lillard confronting the hecklers, asking, “Which one of you all said that?” When a woman pointed out who yelled it, that person apologized.
Athlete Ally, a non-profit group trying to end homophobia in sports, stated after the incident:
“The use of these homophobic slurs have no place in sports or society,” executive director Hudson Taylor said. “Fan sections remain one of the most unsafe places for the LGBTQ community, and will remain so if these slurs aren’t met with condemnation and continued education.”
During the NBA hiatus, Lillard marched in Portland for Black Lives Matter. In an interview with GQ, he said he fears being pulled over by police, especially after a similar incident in Nevada on his way to Weber State in a car he just bought in Oakland.
“I make hundreds of millions of dollars. I’m a professional athlete and all these things, and when I see a cop get behind me, my concern is never the ticket. When people are getting pulled over, they’re like, ‘Man, I’m gonna get a ticket.’ I don’t think about the ticket! I think, ‘I don’t know what’s gonna happen.’ I literally think that. And that’s a problem, man. Because I know I’m not the only one.”
He is releasing rap songs under the name Dame D.O.L.L.A., including several tracks about racial justice and systemic racism.
Lillard started for the WSU Wildcats in Ogden from 2009 to 2012. He was chosen by the Blazers as the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, and he won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award. He was named an All-Star five times and became a member of the All-NBA First Team in 2018. Before the pandemic, Dillard was guaranteed more money than any other player in basketball history: $258 million.
Lillard’s shoe line is at adidas.com/us/damian_lillard.