From an Island to a Garden
The multi-talented Damaris Lewis explains how she became one of the NBA’s biggest fans overnight.
Damaris Lewis has accomplished a lot in just a little bit of time.
Since becoming a professional model—she’s also a trained dancer—in 2006, Lewis has appeared in Sports Illustrated (Swimsuit issue, to be accurate), purchased a residence that she shares with her mother, sat courtside for NBA games, traveled the world for work, and is set to tour with musical megastar Prince in Australia later this month.
Not bad for a precocious 21-year-old from a rough-and-tumble neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, right?
Before she set off for her first visit to the Land Down Under, Lewis—who spends most of her fleeting amount of free time watching NBA games—launched Heels to Hoops, a basketball-themed blog that provides her with a platform to show she is much more than a modeling mannequin.
“When I model, you can’t hear me; you can only see my picture,” Lewis, who is both boisterous and well-spoken, says. “But if you see me speaking, what you see is what you get. There is no Photoshop, there’s no retouching. If you like me, you do. If you don’t, you don’t, and carry on with life.”
While her extended gig in Australia will most likely keep her from tweeting as much as she’d like about the NBA Playoffs, a jovial Lewis took a few moments to explain to SLAM how she did her homework and became one of the League’s most notable fans.
SLAM: As someone who’s both from Brooklyn and knows their fashion, what do you think of the Nets’ new jerseys?
Damaris Lewis: I’m liking the black and white. I’m not gonna lie, I’m a Knick by blood. I will probably always be a Knick. But I’m pretty excited that even if the team doesn’t have swag, at least the logo does.
SLAM: What do you think about having a team in that borough?
DL: It’s nuts, but then again, it’s New York. I think it’ll be great for Brooklyn—why not? I’m from Coney Island, and when they put the Cyclones (a minor league baseball team) in it was amazing for tourists and stuff. The area is one of those places in Brooklyn that you love to go to. I think it’s going to be really busy; I dunno how I feel about that yet. But the more people that know about Brooklyn, the better. As long as it doesn’t turn into the City I’m fine.
SLAM: So you grew up on Coney Island. Does that mean you were a big Marbury fan back in the day?
DL: I was (laughs). I actually went to gymnastics with his daughter, Stephanie, when I was like nine or 12 or something. I grew up at the Boys & Girls club, and that’s pretty much all you did. You either played dodgeball, double dutch, basketball or pool—and you talked about Marbury, because he was like the only thing from Coney Island. So, yeah, I was a Marbury fan.
Quincy Douby, his sister was my old camp counselor, and she’s actually one of my really close friends now. Also, I grew up in the same building as Lance Stephenson. Same exact building; he was just a couple of floors above me. Also, Sebastian Telfair, he grew up like two blocks away from me. I saw him at a Phoenix game and was like, “Hi, you don’t know me but we grew up in the same place.”
SLAM: I guess you grew up around basketball, but how did you get into it yourself?
DL: Well, you know the movie He Got Game? Those are my projects in the movie. So my very first time seeing movie life or the entertainment world was that, because it was right outside my window. They gave us a new basketball court. That’s where they shot the movie.
My older brother, he grew up watching basketball. Since I was his little sister, and I liked LeBron, he never let me watch with him. When I left, I bought a house for me and my mom, and I was like, Yes, I have the freedom to watch whatever I want. Then [someone] told me to get LeaguePass. I said, “I’m not ordering something that’s going to allow me to not have a life.” Of course, I did, and now I don’t have a life. Since then, I’ve literally been hooked.
I think it’s more of like, my mom and her generation can talk about seeing Jordan from day one—well maybe not my mom, because she’s from the Caribbean. But my older friends, they can have the Ewing conversation, and I’m always so lost in those conversations. My conversations in 10 years are going to be the rise of DRose, the rise of Durant, of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, of Russell Westbrook and James Harden. These are people who I’m going to be talking about in 10 years. That’s why I pay close attention to the younger teams, because I know in the future I’ll be more connected to them than trying to hop on this Kobe bandwagon or something.
SLAM: Someone will be like, “Do you remember when this happened to KD?” And you’ll be able to answer.
DL: Right. Like the triple-overtime game in OKC—I was up until 2 a.m. watching the game.
When Jay-Z says, “Jordan, Game 6,” I’m like, Jordan…Game 6…Oh, you mean when he hit the winner. But, like, I have to do my research on it because I’m not fully aware of Jordan’s Game 6—I’m 21! I do know that the last time the Knicks won a Championship was ’73 and the first time was ’70. I know that because I have to do my history because I go to so many Knicks games.
I hate hypocrite fans. I hate, “Oh my God! So tell me about Celtics?” “Well, they’re green. There’s Rondo and there’s Garnett.” I want to walk into a room and be like, Yes, for the past three years Durant has won the scoring title. He beat Kobe this year, and Kobe sat out the last game. Like, I actually do know what’s going on.
SLAM: When did you start going to games? Like, did you get to go at all as a kid?
DL: I think my gaming is more recent. I think the only games I probably went to as a kid were if the Boys & Girls club got tickets. I went to Globetrotter games all the time with my mom, and then my first year of modeling—that was in 2006—they sat me courtside for a game. Then I didn’t go to a game for like four years, but…now I live at the Garden.