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Damian Lillard: How He Went from Wrestling Fan to Top of NBA

People think they know how deep this goes. You really have no idea. Everything I am, it goes back to where I’m from.

This story isn’t for everybody. I don’t usually talk like this, but I’m telling this story for the people who know about selling See’s candy on Fourth Street in Berkeley for travel money.

I’m doing it for the people who know about Brookfield rec and hot chips and Sprite.

For the people who know about the WWF Cumberbund Championship Belt.

This story is for you.

We gotta go back to the beginning. This didn’t start with basketball. Go on and ask my bro. I was not trying to be an NBA player. I wasn’t trying to go to the league and play for the Lakers or whatever. When I was seven, eight years old?

The league wasn’t the plan.

I was trying to be the Ultimate Warrior, bruh.

I was about it. Go on and ask my brother. We’re not for the fake or the phony in this story. Bring him out.

Dame’s brother, Houston: This fool … listen. One time we were Christmas shopping at Old Navy — me, Damian and my mom. I’m like 11, Dame’s 8. Mom’s got us looking at some polo shirts or whatever, and I turn around and this fool is strutting down the aisles, flexing. He’s going up to random strangers in the khaki aisle like, “Ohhhhhhh, yeah, brother!”

My mom starts chasing him, trying to straighten him out. And he’s running down the aisles, just turning to random people, like “Whatcha gonna do, brother?” Turning to another one, “Whoa yeahhhhh, runnin’ wild, brother!” I’m dying. I’m like, What is this dude doing? Hulk Hogan had just won the belt the night before, so Dame was Hulk Hogan for the whole weekend. He became him. Running up on Old Navy shoppers talking about his “24-inch pythons.”

That’s just the dog in me coming out. Me and Houston shared a bedroom until he was in high school, and it was like East Oakland Wrestlemania in there — I’m talking every single night. Going for the belt. But it wasn’t the normal WWF belt. We had to be creative. When my grandmother had her 50th birthday party, she made all the boys wear the old-school tuxedos with the silk cumberbund. So that was perfect. My cumberbund became the Undisputed Lillard Family Heavyweight Belt.


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