BEAVERTON - It's hard to call the break from the NBA season an offseason for Portland Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard.
The Blazers' season ended May 11 and since then, Lillard has continuously been on the go. He kicked off the summer with a mini-world tour to promote Adidas, stopping in Beijing, Tokyo and Paris, among other cities abroad. The Lillard brand has started to go international, the young point guard discovered.
"I was able to see the growth in my career and the amount of fans that have started to follow me this last trip," Lillard said.
Though his trip involved "work," Lillard certainly enjoyed traveling.
"It was the most fun trip that I have had," he said.
With Lillard back in Portland last week, he wasn't relaxing but hosting his second basketball camp of the month for local kids. Why this All-Star forgoes vacation time in order to make his camps happen is simple: "I think it's more about the kids than the actual camp," Lillard said.
300-plus kids from ages 6-16 gathered at The Hoop in Beaverton to learn basketball skills, perform drills and learn what it takes to be a good person. Lillard is present all days of camp and is involved in all aspects.
"I want to make my presence felt. A lot of time it's easy to donate and give a box for kids to come to games, but the best thing we can do is give our time," Lillard said.
During one day of the camps Lillard takes the time to sign any memorabilia campers bring to him. He spends hours posing for photos with every single camper.
"I see it as an opportunity to give as much of my time as possible," he said.
Another special touch Lillard added to his camp: The release of a signature D-Lillard 2 shoe, exclusively for his campers.
"Nobody else has this shoe - it's specifically for them. I think it is something that can make us a little more together and let's us share one more thing," said Lillard.
Not only is he impacting the campers, but Lillard also gives young adults a chance to gain coaching and leadership experience working under him at the camp. Bryce White, a Portland native who spent three seasons playing basketball at Portland State University and is low looking to transfer or play professionally overseas, said he
appreciates that Lillard is at the camp every day and is extremely involved.
"Personally, my favorite part of the camp is the end when all the coaches get together and play, including Dame. The crowd is pretty into it and you can see the happiness on every kid's face," White said.
For most of the campers it is the best week of their young lives to be in such a hands-on environment with their idol. Lillard is content with the love he gets from the kids. His favorite part is simply being around them and offering what he likes to call, "a life lesson all in one week."
As far as basketball goes, this is the closest you will see Lillard to the game this summer as he tends to train in other activities.
"I don't play in the summer, I just work out", he said.
Lillard wrapped up his second camp last Friday, July 8, but will hold one more camp this summer, hosted at Club Sport.