Damian Lillard Surprised Six High School Athletes With Paid Summer Internships

Damian Lillard stays plenty busy in his offseasons and 2021 is no exception, as the Blazers All-Star guard joined Team USA for the Olympics as they won gold and, while in Tokyo, he debuted his first track off of his upcoming album.

In addition to continued on-court work and advancing his music career, Lillard also looks to use his offseasons to give back. Lillard’s Visionary Academy, launched last year as part of the adidas Dame 7 release, is in its second year of working with student-athletes at 27 high school basketball programs (boy’s and girl’s) in L.A., New York, and Chicago. The program provides six players (three boys and three girls) selected from those schools with a local, paid internship each year, working with adidas, SLAM, Modern Notoriety, and In The Lab to work on sports media and digital marketing projects — with the help of an adidas basketball staffer as a mentor for each.

On Monday, the six interns for 2021 were announced, with Lillard speaking with them on a Zoom call to take some questions and offer some advice — with each getting some gear and a new laptop so they can be appropriately outfitted for their new gig.

It is the latest project for Lillard that aims to give back to the community, as he expands to New York, L.A., and Chicago on top of the work he does in his native Oakland and adopted home of Portland. Providing young athletes with an opportunity to see how the media and marketing mechanisms work from the inside is a great way to offer not just insight into something that is important to be able to utilize as an athlete, but experience in an alternative career path that could keep them in sports even if not turning pro.