Skal Labissiere came to the Portland Trail Blazers last spring after the team traded Caleb Swanigan for him in February, and with him he brought a unique outlook on life, largely as a result of surviving the Haitian earthquake of 2010 combined with his Christian faith. Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune recounted how Labissiere and his family struggled after the catastrophe, as Labissiere could not walk due to injuries sustained in the disaster.
“It’s fortunate we came out of it alive,” Labissiere said. “We were in the only spot in the house where we could have survived. There was a computer desk upstairs that kept part of the wall together. If it wasn’t there, we’d have all been gone.
”It had to be a gift from God. There’s no other way to explain it.”
When he was finally lifted from the rubble, he couldn’t walk.
”I had two people holding me up and my legs were dragging behind as they carried me out of there,” he said. “I couldn’t walk for a long time — for weeks.”
Labissiere has faced a different kind of challenge after last season’s trade, as the depleted Blazers have turned to the young big man more often than not. But according to team captain Damian Lillard, Labissiere put in a worthy performance at training camp.
As the Blazers broke training camp in September, team captain Damian Lillard had a surprise pronouncement.
”If we had to pick an MVP from camp, it’s Skal, 100 percent,” he said.
It was like Tom Brady saying a rookie receiver had the makings of a Pro Bowler.
” ‘Dame’ didn’t have to say that, the level he’s at as a player,” Labissiere said. “It felt really good to get that recognition. I was very thankful for it.”
The humility displayed by Labissiere underpins his work ethic and desire to improve as a player. Increased reps due to injuries have certainly helped Labissiere develop his game, though it is likely he would never say so.
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