"I came out and I proved it up," said the 6-foot-3 guard, who was proclaimed the team's franchise point guard from the start by Blazers general manager Neil Olshey.
"I know that Damian's best days are ahead of him," Olshey said Wednesday. "This is the first step in a bright future."
Lillard is the fourth Blazer to win the Rookie of the Year award, joining Geoff Petrie (1971), Sidney Wicks (1972) and Brandon Roy (2007).
"The thing you love about him more than anything else is he plays with a chip on his shoulder," Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey said: "He's one of those underdogs who went to a small school who is out to prove to everybody he's an NBA player."
Lillard has made a point of being active in the Portland community with an anti-bullying campaign. More than 6,000 fans have signed a pledge to help end bullying as part of his "Respect" program.
"He was never satisfied," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said of Lillard. "He had well-deserved accolades throughout the season. He had milestones throughout the season. He was never satisfied."
Indeed, Lillard was already thinking about what's next.
"I think the best thing for me is to take it all in," he said. "Then tomorrow I've got to let it go. I've got my whole career in front of me."