Damian Lillard has become ingrained in Portland’s culture, and not just because he plays for the Trail Blazers. Off the court, he hosts a kids basketball camp in the summer, takes impromptu pictures with fans, and occasionally dedicates a shoe to the City of Roses. He’s a basketball superstar and could spurn anyone who approaches him because he’s enjoying himself out in public. But Lillard isn’t about that; Lillard is about loyalty and family, and Blazer fans are as loyal as it gets.
So when die-hard fan and 93-year-old World War II veteran Elmer Ballard put out a video, in which he says his 94th birthday wish is to meet Lillard, the Blazers star had to meet him. The two appeared on SportsCenter for their encounter, as shown by Blazers personality Mr. Portland on Twitter:
It turns out, Mr. Portland had a huge hand in getting the two to meet. He initially tweeted the video of Ballard making his birthday wish, tagging Lillard’s handle. It got Dame’s attention, and he replied in only a way he could:
Ballard told KOIN about his meeting with Lillard:
“He was great,” Ballard said. “Best thing I ever saw, I think — and I spent a month in Alaska.”
Lillard was clearly honored someone much older had profound respect for him, especially given what he’s been through:
“This is coming from a much different level,” Lillard said, “like I said with him being an older guy, a World War II veteran.”
In a world of superstars, there’s only one Damian Lillard, and for as long as he’s in Portland, stories like this are just the norm with him.