Damian Lillard is making it far too easy to like him.
The Oregonian's Bruce Ely (h/t Deadspin) reports the Portland Trail Blazers guard, just a couple of days removed from the late-game heroics that sealed a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, busied himself with making his younger contingent of fans beam around the holidays.
Ely reports 30 kids from the Blazers' Boys and Girls Club boarded a bus headed toward a local Toys "R" Us—only they didn't know it at the time.
The trip was a surprise to most of the kids, as was the $100 gift card each child was given to spend at the store, all thanks to Lillard.
This isn't an isolated incident when it comes to Lillard, he showed a few months ago a willingness to go above and beyond in a separate event that also involved shopping.
Yahoo! Sports' Dan Devine reported back in August that Lillard felt really bad about telling a fan he needed to finish shopping before he could snap a picture with him.
He felt so bad that he actually tweeted about it:
Social media being what it is, he managed to coordinate with the fan later that day, supplying a photo opportunity when most athletes would have just headed home.
Lillard's shopping spree might remind you of a similar gesture from the NFL world. Earlier this month, Fox Sports' Andy Nesbitt reported on the Houston Texans' Andre Johnson once again taking kids to a local Toys "R" Us and spending thousands on them.
Here is an image of a job well done.
This is the highlight of the week, especially because of the time of year it is. Some people aren’t as fortunate to get Christmas presents and have a Christmas tree and have a bunch of family around them, so just the fact that I could give them something close to that with this trip, that means everything to me.
Lillard is in the second season of what looks to be a very promising career. He is following a rookie campaign wherein he scored 19 points a game with another prolific 21.3 points per contest this year.
More importantly, he is doing everything he can to invigorate the fanbase and enliven the community around him. That's the kind of player that doesn't just enjoy a long career, but a memorable one as well.
We tried hard not to get sappy and obvious, but shucks, this is all just so wonderful. Many will clamor through shopping malls, bustling past one another to get to that latest gift on their list, rarely remembering to take a step back and reflect on what's important.
Hey, I'm just as guilty. However, it's awesome to see some athletes take just a second to make a huge impact on kids who are enjoying the season a little bit more because of them.
Hit me up on Twitter: