Damian Lillard has won the 2018-19 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, as administered and selected by the Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA). Named after the NBA’s second commissioner, the honor is presented annually by the PBWA to a player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.
Lillard was one of five finalists for the 2018-19 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, along with Bismack Biyombo, Devin Booker, Mike Conley and Steve Kerr.
Lillard is being honored for supporting and inspiring high school students in Portland through his RESPECT program, which encourages youth to Show Up, Work Hard and Be Kind. Lillard, who has spent his entire career with the Trail Blazers since being selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, started the anti-bullying platform in 2013 after meeting with Portland school administrators to identify schools that most needed a more positive culture among students.
Lillard has partnered with three Portland high schools – Madison, Parkrose and Roosevelt – to reinforce the value of education and celebrate student achievement. He has participated in school assemblies and class discussions and has empowered teachers and counselors to reward respectful, diligent students with tickets to Trail Blazers games, RESPECT merchandise and special events with Lillard such as a private tour of the team’s practice facility. The schools have reported significant progress resulting from Lillard’s commitment, including improvements in student behavior, engagement, attendance and tardiness.
“Damian Lillard’s sustained commitment to inspire young people in Portland is inspiring,” said PBWA President Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “PBWA members honor him and commend his fellow finalists and nominees for their laudatory work.”