- Damian Lillard said he immediately told his mother to quit her job when he signed his $13 million rookie contract.
- Lillard went to work and helped her set the table.
- Lillard now has $191 million in career earnings and has created “generational wealth” to support his family.
As soon as he could, Damian Lillard told his mother to quit her job.
Speaking with ESPN’s Marc J. Spears on “Andscape,” Lillard said that when he signed his first NBA contract in 2012 — a four-year, $13.8 million rookie deal — he went to his mother’s job. to help her out.
“The first thing I did, okay, I’m a millionaire now, so I went to my mom’s job and I was like, ‘Give it up,'” Lillard told Spears. “I literally went and helped her set her table, everything. ‘They’re not doing you right. They’re in your ass over every little thing. We’re not going back.’ So that was just my initial thought.”
Lillard did not specify what her mother, Gina Johnson, did for a living. However, he said that during her senior year at Weber State, she was “struggling” and living in an apartment with her sister in San Leandro, California. Lillard said he would try to catch her during phone conversations, saying he would be summoned soon.
“We would talk on the phone at least every other day. And she would tell me how bad she was feeling. They were after her because of her production. They were basically threatening to fire her,” he recalled. “She was stressed and struggling with her health at work. And I was constantly telling her things like, ‘What? [Boston] The Celtics trained today. O [Utah] Jazz was at practice today. I was just trying to lift her spirits.”
Lillard was selected sixth overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. Once he signed his contract, he went to his mother’s work to help her out.
“When I finally got drafted and everything was pretty much set up, I got home and literally went to her job in San Ramon. We walked in and everyone was aware that I had just been drafted… Give it up! We quit!'”
In an interview with “Court-Side Moms” in 2020, Johnson said that she and much of her family moved to Portland with Lillard from California.
Lillard often spoke of her upbringing in a rough neighborhood in Oakland. He told ESPN in 2010, while still at Weber State, that he chose to go to Utah school, in part, to get out of Oakland.
Now, as Lillard told Spears, he has built “generational wealth” to support his family for years to come.
Lillard is in the midst of a four-year, $176 million contract. This offseason, he signed a two-year, $122 million extension with the Blazers, the richest in NBA history.
Lillard has already earned $191 million in career earnings, and if he finishes his stretch, he will have made half a billion in the NBA.
“I put in the time and work and do things the right way with the right intentions,” Lillard told Spears. “And I put my family in a position where my kids don’t have to have the pressure of me trying to force them to be a great basketball player or trying to force them to be a great athlete.
“I do what I do so they have the luxury of whatever you want to do, be comfortable with it, be happy with it… I am now. So I can create that kind of effect, not just for my kids, but for your children, cousins and my brother’s children.”