PORTLAND, Ore. — Damian Lillard said his second favorite sport is boxing. He said his favorite video games are NBA 2K and Fight Night and if he had to run a mile, he could do it in about five minutes. Those were just some of the questions he answered during Google Hangouts meetup with DeeAnn Albaugh's fourth grade class.
Albaugh said she's a huge Blazers fan and uses the team to help teach lessons in her class.
"You want to have productive struggles," she said. "We talk about how they've been down and he has to go out on the court and make a difference; that he could've hung his head, he could've given up, he could've said this game's over, but he kept going with it."
She pushes her classes to go for it and never give up. Her students encouraged her to try and get Damian Lillard to speak. So, in a four-minute video posted to YouTube and Twitter, she put herself all out there in a freestyle rap.
"Believe it or not, that was one take," she said laughing. "Definitely need to go on the road with that."
About a week later, before the school year was out, she heard back from Lillard who had agreed to show up virtually.
"He answered every single question that they had from how do you do a jump shot? Why do you play basketball? All of these interesting tidbits about him and every question that was asked, he was 100% focused on it and treated that question as though it was the most important question," Albaugh said.
She said it's the way he interacts with students, how he presents himself on and off the court is what she really likes about him.
"Just him showing up saying, 'Hey class, how's it going? Keep going hard' would have been enough. But he took time out with each kiddo to give them the respect that they deserved and I just thought that once again, that's his true talent. His incredibleness as a person, to make people feel important," Albaugh said.
After all the questions were asked, Lillard gave them some advice to take into the future as they continue on with their education.
"There are no sports if you don't have the grades to play. That right there tells you that education is the most important thing because you're going to go to school, you're going to have class. You're going to be taught regardless if you play a sport or not, but if you don't do that, there is going to be no sport. It's really important that you take your education seriously," Lillard said in the video.
"If you don't play sports," Lillard continued,"Regardless of whatever type of job or profession you have when you get older, you want to be educated so you're comfortable in whatever room or whatever environment you're in. You're well informed, you're knowledgeable in multiple areas."
It's those messages Albaugh said she'll take with her to her next class as they start the new 4th grade year the same way it ended: online.
"I think that just reminding them that even during this difficult time, it's a learning time," Albaugh said.