Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is making moves off the court as he’s secured his first tech investment.

The platform that has caught the NBA All-Star’s attention is KICKS CREW, a digital sneaker marketplace

Courtesy of KICKS CREW

More on Lillard’s investment decision: The venture marks new territory for Lillard. With that in mind, he revealed exclusively to AfroTech that the driving force which assured his commitment was rooted in his interests in elevating the streetwear community through business and outreach.

Lillard on the partnership: “With KICKS CREW as my first tech investment, I wanted to help elevate the business. As an athlete, we are able to establish a connection with the consumers and the community through our business and investments. Together, we can create an environment that’s of service to the consumer and bring positivity to the streetwear community,” Lillard told AfroTech in an email interview.

As a partner, Lillard also recognized it wasn’t just his role as an athlete that was favored in the eyes of KICKS CREW. Lillard noticed that the company looked beyond his jersey number and accolades to see him as the Oakland native who keeps home close to his heart and finds joy in giving back.

Lillard on synergy with KICKS CREW: “When I met with Ross Yip [COO and Co-Founder of KICKS CREW] and heard about KICKS CREW, it became less about me being an athlete and more so about me being a person,” Lillard told AfroTech exclusively. “We were aligned, especially, when it came to the community and giving back. As a business platform, you look at the streetwear market and everyone has the top tier goods, but at marked-up prices. With KICKS CREW, it felt approachable. I can find things for myself or my wife or my sister all in one place here because of KICKS CREW’s vast selection that caters to various types of customers. I haven’t seen anything like it.”

The partnership officially kicks into gear on Oct. 20, and it is symbolic of a shared desire to make a difference while pushing KICKS CREW in a direction toward becoming a staple across communities.

Responsibilities: What’s more, as the first KICKS CREW athlete, Lillard isn’t taking his responsibilities lightly. He will have a seat at the table and will advise the platform on philanthropic initiatives and share insights centered on authenticity and inclusivity.

Advising: Lillard will also give his two cents on athletic and lifestyle footwear that will be considered for product features.

“As an athlete, I’m on my feet training and putting in the work, and sometimes, there’s recovery involved during the season. I like my sneakers to look good, but comfort is one of my biggest things for any shoes I wear. Working with KICKS CREW has allowed me to share and explore some of my favorite items. I’m a big fan of BAPE as a streetwear brand, and I got to shout out the Dame 8s of course, but with our partnership, I get to put together and showcase brands that I think are cool — whether that be everyday wear or my favorite hype shoes. It’ll be fun being in the room for some key decision-making moments,” Lillard explained.

Sneaker giveaway: To celebrate the launch of the partnership, KICKS CREW launched a campaign that features Lillard hosting a sneaker giveaway from an ice cream truck at Brookfield Park (now Bill Patterson Park) in his Oakland community.

Courtesy of KICKS CREW

They will keep the momentum going through a virtual giveaway available exclusively through KICKSCREW.com and THE CREW app. Users will be able to tap into limited edition items such as signed merchandise by Damian Lillard, plus more.

“Now that I’m older and things have changed, I’m in a position to show kids that are growing up in the same environment that I did that they can make it too,” Lillard expressed. “Growing up was rough, but we always had each other. It was in Brookfield that I learned how to be compassionate, care about others, and be a team player. I’m at the point in my life where my happiest moments are when I see the people I love and care about happy. The more that I realized that I started to make it a bigger part of my life and align myself with people that feel the same way.”