By Marc J. Spears
The Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard and a cousin saw the biopic “Fruitvale Station” in an otherwise empty theater in Portland on Wednesday night. Considering that the NBA Rookie of the Year personally knew the man portrayed in the film, it probably was easier to watch it in the Pacific Northwest without many people around rather than in his hometown of Oakland, Calif.
“If I would have watched it at home I’m sure there would have been a lot of people out there crying,” Lillard told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday in a phone interview.
“Fruitvale Station” is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a young African-American who, while handcuffed with his face to the ground, was shot in the back and killed by a transit police officer in the early morning of New Year’s Day 2009. Grant’s death sparked mass protests in Oakland.
Lillard says he became familiar with Grant through his older brother, Houston, who knew Grant well. Lillard learned of Grant’s death while attending Weber State University.
“He went to high school and played on the same football team as my brother,” Lillard said. “I used to always be around my brother at the high school and crossed paths with [Grant]. We were on the bus at the same time. We were always in the same areas.”