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Portland Trailblazers point guard and Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard talks to The Source about being an ambassador for the Special Olympics.

Up in Bristol, Connecticut today at ESPN’s main campus The Walt Disney Company, ESPN, and the Special Olympics announced their new partnership and global initiative. The celebration included several athletes special dignitaries, Special Olympics athletes and ESPN and Special Olympics executives. got a chance to speak with Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers who happens to be an ambassador for the Special Olympics. Check out what the NBA’s Rookie of the Year had to say about the Special Olympics, the Hall of Fame induction, and building on his ROY campaign in the interview below.


How did you get involved with the Special Olympics?

I was asked to be an ambassador and I was all for it. I had experience with it in college. I really enjoyed myself being a part of it. I realized how much of an impact I had on them and just how much they have the same abilities that we have. When they told me I was excited about, I’m happy to be apart of it.

Why do you think you were chosen to be an ambassador for the Special Olympics?

It probably has something to do with who I am, but I think it also has a lot to do with my experience with it. I did the game at All-Star weekend and I had a lot of fun. I think that has as much to do with it than anything.

What does Disney/ESPN/Special Olympics ‘ global initiative consist of? And where does Damian Lillard fit in?

It’s to raise the awareness of people, just to see that they’re normal people. That they have normal abilities just like we have and as long as we have other athletes out there who have abilities like myself are with them then it takes away from people being able to look at it like “they have disabilities, they’re less than what we are” because they’re not. So if I can come in and have that type of influence and impact and other athletes also than I think it’s a great idea for us to be apart of.

How will this partnership change things for the Special Olympics? And what will the impact be?

It’s going to bring better awareness and understanding on a more global scale because of all the marketing, advertising and support that it is going to bring. So you’re going to see a lot more participation and we want to get a lot more athletes and coaches to participate, so everyone participating is an athlete or coach and also those that have intellectual disabilities. It’s breaking down barriers. (answered by Special Olympics representative Christy White)

Gary Payton recently said John Stockton was the hardest person to guard, what is your take on that?

I never played against John Stockton, so he (Gary Payton) is probably right, for him that’s saying a lot coming from him because he is probably one of the greatest point guard defenders to ever play the game. The game is a lot different now so I can see why it would have been that way back then.

Hall Of Fame induction is Saturday, who do you think is going to have the best speech?

I think GP (Gary Payton) is going to have the best speech. Just because of his personality. It will be fun to see what he has to say.

How do you go forward building on your Rookie of the Year campaign for next season?

Well this summer I just been trying to focus on getting better. Just trying to tighten up my game, I’m trying to come back with some new tricks. Just to show out there, just be more productive and play the game a little bit better.

– John McAuliffe (@John_Mac310)