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Sunday, April 14, 2024

“I Don’t Have a Family Member That’s Had $100 Million”: Damian Lillard Reflects on His Unique Experience as a Millionaire

Damian Lillard was recently a guest on the ‘Dinners with Demar‘ show, hosted by Bulls forward Demar DeRozan, a good friend of Dame who shares a similar life story. Dinners with DeMar is part of DeRozan’s efforts to raise awareness around mental health. Especially in the world of high-performance sports, the discussion around mental health is almost non-existent. Players are often treated as expensive investments, and owners and fans have little empathy for the athletes.

During Lillard’s appearance on the show, the duo delved deep into the problem of “finance and fame”. Lillard pointed out how players often come from humble backgrounds, having never dealt with large sums of money. With a lack of financial education, athletes often find themselves spinning out of control, and ending up bankrupt. He used an instance from his own life, driving the point home,

“I don’t have a family member that has had a $100 million, and had to be on TV and had to always behave… it something I had to deal with, and if you don’t deal with it properly, you will spiral out of control.”

During the show, Lillard further revealed his struggles with mental health. It wasn’t until his close friend encouraged him to “speak out” that Dame decided to take his mental health more seriously. Growing out of Oakland, California, Lillard experienced drugs and violence from a young age. He chose to chase his NBA dream regardless, clawing his way from a two-star high school recruit to a six-time All-Star in the league.

A friend who changed Damian Lillard

Being an NBA athlete comes with its share of mental toll, and with the growing scrutiny of players by the media and fans, things are only getting harder. During his appearance on ‘Dinners with DeMar Show’, earlier, Lillard revealed that it was through a friend that Lillard felt inspired to talk about his problems. Telling DeRozan about the same, Lillard revealed,

“I think we just get caught up in our day-to-day you know, show up to practice, do your workout, watch film. We get so caught up in that that we don’t realize the impact that our life and its entirety is having on us. And I think that’s something that I ignored for a long time. But I never knew, we never had any mental health conversations and depression and all those types of things so I just felt like, ‘Man, I gotta get through it’.”

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Lillard comes from the rough streets of Oakland, California. Growing up in the projects, Lillard never heard any conversations surrounding mental health. He isn’t unique in his experience, as many players such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Dwayne Wade have very publically talked about the mental health struggles that NBA athletes face. Even though fans want their favorite players to show up during big moments, it’s important to realize that heroes are human too.

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