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Painting a Picture

How Damian Lillard's Life Bleeds out in His Music and His Game

Damian Lillard isn't one to shy away from the moment, from hitting the biggest shot in Portland Trail Blazers' history to proclaiming victory over the Golden State Warriors in six games as a underdog. Well that's what you get from a twenty-seven-year-old Oakland native who had a craving to make it out of the "O" as he would call it. Now as he prepares for the release of his second studio album Confirmed, and the upcoming NBA season, Lillard life spills out though his mediums.

Lillard's first album The Letter O was released under his rap moniker Dame D.O.L.L.A. (Different On Levels the Lord Allowed) to respectable reviews. The album represented the three "O's" that defined him as a man. First the city of Oakland where Lillard dreams of making it to the NBA were formed, to playing college basketball for Weber St. in Ogden Utah, to  signing a five-year $120 million extension to stay in Portland, Oregon. Though D.O.L.L.A. was laying down verses for the longest, his profile glowed up with an appearance on Sway in the Morning where he gave a freestyle that had the internet ablaze. 

Dame D.O.L.L.A. Sway in The Morning Freestyle

The video debuted over two years ago and has accumulated over 7 million views to date, giving D.O.L.L.A. that acclaim that has alluded him on the basketball court time and time again.

Lillard was consistently overlooked for his efforts on the hardwood. Dame did well his freshmen year, but had controversy that he couldn't control. Jealous teammates began to quit the team midway through the season because of Lillard's plays. Lillard explained in an interview with Bleacher Report that the coach "ni**ered it up" for him, which rubbed teammates the wrong way. The coach would later be fired and Lillard would transfer to the powerhouse program of St. Joseph Notre Dame, which once belonged to NBA All-Star Jason Kidd. Though St. Joseph gave Lillard a better chance of achieving his ultimate goal, issues with head basketball coach Don Lippi derailed that dream. Lillard would clash with Lippi from time to time due to lack of playing time. Lillard decided to meet with the coach to discuss the lack of time on the court. The thinly-minted relationship was severed after the meeting.  

“We have a meeting, ’cause he meets with all the players at the end of the year, and he’s telling me how I might not be on the team and I’m gonna have to really earn it. He asks me, ‘What do you want to do?’ I say, ‘I wanna play in the league.’ So he goes, ‘One second,’ pulls out a notepad and says, ‘This many kids play college basketball. This many play Division I. This many play pro. This many make it to the NBA. You really think you’re gonna be a part of this?’ So I’m looking at him like, Wow, that’s cold. Like, even if I’m not gonna make it to the NBA, you’re not supposed to tell me that.”

Lippi stated that Lillard was sitting behind talented seniors and "would have been our starter next season, with out question." But Lillard didn't take it as such. He would later transfer to Oakland High School, and mention the situation on the track "Bill Walton." 

My private school coach said I couldn't, what a hypocrisy
Obviously, I'm built like no other, it ain't no stoppin me
Tunnel vision I'm blinding whoever busy jockin' me

Lillard would eventually go on to star at Weber St., where his hard work was rewarded when the Trail Blazers selected him with the sixth pick in the 2012 draft. He returned the favor with a Rookie of the Year award, two All-Star appearances, and becoming the franchise player who isn't looking to leave to join a super team. With all the accolades that Lillard receives, he doesn't need to look far for inspiration on the court. 

Lillard is a two-time All-Star, but one came as an injury replacement for Blake Griffin back in 2015. He missed the event altogether last season and wasn't pleased by the coaches decision to leave him at home. He was cut by Team USA back in 2016 for the likes of point guard Kyle Lowery and Kyrie Irving. Through all the perceived calamity in Lillard's life, his music remains his muse to channel his emotions. 

Lillard described the his new album Confirmed as "Having more tempo to it, but the songs are more raw. But it ain't all positivity like the last one." His first single "Run it Up" featuring Lil Wayne shows the raw emotion of Dame spoke about providing his fans. He raps about the hustle he has, and balancing the passion he has for both rapping and hooping. 

I'm the Daddy Mac, Mac Daddy with hoop and rappin'
Y'all be on your Kris Kross, uh, hustlin' backwards

ESPN's The Undefeated ran a piece on Lillard earlier this year and asked the aforementioned Wayne what made him lay down a verse. Wayne spoke to Lillard's ability to remain the same when he's rapping as he is on the court. Whether Lillard is lacing up his sneakers, or writing down in his notebook, Lillard is a storyteller. He paints a picture through the muses that have defined his life. It's time for people to just enjoy the product.

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