PORTLAND -- Two brothers accuse NBA Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard of standing by while his entourage beat the brothers up early Saturday morning in Portland’s Old Town district. The incident happened at about 2:30 a.m. on May 18.
Jermaine Ulinwa told KGW the beating happened as a result of a picture that he snapped with his cell phone after he spotted the basketball star walking toward a parking lot with several other people.
“So I took a picture. And so Damian Lillard was upset that I took his picture, so when he turned around he's like, "Did you just take my picture?" said Ulinwa.
“And his entourage just turned around too and they're like, ‘did you just take a picture of Damian Lillard?’ ... and I said 'Yeah, I did.' And so I saw that he was clearly upset, they were upset and I was like, 'Can I apologize to him? I'll go up right now and apologize to him,'” the brother said.
Within minutes, he says the discussion became an all-out fight which did not involve Lillard, but did involve others that the brothers believe were part of Lillard’s group.
That's when his brother Phil says he stepped in to help.
"That's my brother, don't push him," Philip Ulinwa recalled saying. "So then they start pushing me and one of the people in his entourage comes and strikes me on my face."
Philip Ulinwa says he was punched and kicked repeatedly, enough to break his nose and require stitches in his lip.
"I'm getting hit from behind, I'm trying to fight the guy in front, trying to defend myself and there's guys trying to hold me down," said Ulinwa.
Damian Lillard was recently honored as the NBA's Rookie of the Year, and has also been singled out for his public efforts in opposition to bullying. But the Ulinwa brothers blame Lillard for Saturday's altercation.
“Damian Lillard basically instigated it, because he actually looked like he was going to go up to my brother and start fighting him. And since he did that, the rest of the guys started getting riled up too and like they thought it was okay to just start fighting out of nowhere,” said Phil Ulinwa.
A spokesperson for the Portland Trail Blazers told KGW “We are aware of the alleged incident. Based on preliminary reports, none of our players is considered a suspect in this case.”
Police confirmed they are investigating the incident.
“What we do know for certain at this point is Damian Lillard is not a suspect in this incident at all," said Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. "Police did talk to him there. He remained at the scene. What we don’t know is if these people were actually associated with him or people standing in a group or hangers on. We're not really sure yet."