Portland Trail Blazers forward/center Meyers Leonard isn’t a national name, but his story is one that people are likely to pay more attention to after an autobiographical mini-documentary he released on Tuesday.
Titled “Built to Rise” the website and 7-minute video details Leonard’s upbringing in rural Illinois, and tackles subjects including his father’s death, living in poverty, and his drive to rehabilitate after a season-ending shoulder injury in 2015-16.
Leonard, 24, is an athletic, sharp-shooting big man that Blazers GM Neil Olshey saw fit to award a 4-year, $41 million contract this offseason.
On a rollercoaster with fans for much of his time in Oregon, Leonard was first as a target of derision and then became one of immense praise.
After being taken No. 11 overall in the 2012 NBA draft as a young, project big man to go alongside superstar and No. 6 overall pick Damian Lillard, the Illinois big man struggled as he wrestled with the defensive concepts and speed of the NBA.
While Leonard has not matched Lillard’s level of play — and it would be hard to — he found his zenith of support in 2014-15 after working with former Trail Blazers big man coach Kim Hughes and notching a 40/50/90 shooting season, culminating in a stellar showing against the Memphis Grizzlies in the postseason that same year.
In any case, Leonard’s mini-doc is a well-done video made in partnership with a Portland-based agency that has done a lot of branding work in sports. Leonard figures to be in Portland for some time, and the video is no doubt a piece of personal branding to help bridge the remaining gap between him and fans in Portland.