Damian Lillard has a huge passion for the sport of boxing and anyone who follows him on social media knows it.
When he’s not sharing intense workouts in the ring on social media during the offseason, or casting his predictions on lightweight showdowns, the Trail Blazers superstar is getting off the mat time and time again as one of the most clutch players in the NBA.
During All-Star Weekend, Lillard shared how he draws inspiration from three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. The six-time NBA All-Star says Ali didn’t just inspire him because he was one of the greatest fighters, but because he was one of the most inspiration human beings of all time.
“Muhammad Ali is my favorite athlete of all time,” Lillard said of The People’s Champion. “He’s not my favorite athlete of all-time because of what he did in the ring. I love what he represented outside of the ring regardless of what he might have been putting on the line with his boxing career. Him being as big of a star as he was at that time. I’m not sure there’s been any athlete in history that was at his peak, and on top in terms of fame and success in their sport and was willing to give it all up for what he believed in. So, he the G.O.A.T. for a reason and it’s not just for what he did in the ring.
During Ali’s boxing career, he had a 56-5 record and 37 knockouts. He is the only three-time heavyweight champion. But his legacy in terms of activism would not only match but surpass his fight in the ring. Ali was a vocal advocate for the Black civil rights movement, and he inspired prominent voices to fight harder for social justice issues, many of which extend beyond the scope of the sports world today.
Like Ali, Lillard is never one to back down from a fight. When the game is on the line, the Blazers legend will do whatever it is he needs to help put his team in position to win, even pull up from three at half-court.
Off the court, he continues to be a vocal leader in the Oakland and Portland communities and uses his platform in the NBA to create sustainable change. Whether it’s joining in on the protests against police brutality and racial injustice or dropping singles as Dame D.O.L.L.A. inspiring others to be the greatest at whatever they do.
It’s that killer mentality and work ethic that separates Lillard from the pack of NBA players. Lillard has taken a page out of Ali's book and he’s always ready to be part of the fight.