Family is at the heart of Cleveland HS basketball program

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 6:30 AM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Ranked Top 10 in the state for boys 6A basketball for the first time in years, the Cleveland Warriors continue to press forward under the guidance of a lifelong friend of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.

Dondrale Campbell is in his fifth season as head coach of the Cleveland High School Warriors with the last two being most challenging on the kids he leads.

“Sometimes I have to kick these kids out of the gym because they are in here talking to each other and hanging out, and I am like, ‘come on man, I want to go home, it’s 9:00. I get it, you guys have missed this. You’ve missed being able to just be able to hang out and talk to each other without a screen being able to block your real interaction,’” Campbell said.

Family is at the heart of Cleveland HS basketball program
Family is at the heart of Cleveland HS basketball program(KPTV)

Campbell came to Portland during Lillard’s second NBA season, and the childhood friend from Oakland found roots in Rip City too.

“My aunt and his mom grew up together and we’ve known each other since we’ve been kids, so we’ve always called each other family,” Campbell said. “We’re not blood related, but we’ve always been family.”

Family is at the heart of the Cleveland program.

Junior Christion Green, 17, is in his second year on Cleveland High School varsity.

“He’s been a big part of my life inside of basketball and outside. Known him since middle school, good guy,” Green said about Coach Campbell.

Campbell has been a good dad to his first born son for the past year and a half. Green is a giver too, helping his mom when he’s back at home.

“My sister is 12, my brother is five, my youngest sister is like five months,” he said.

Basketball is a big part of Green’s cycle of teenage life.

“For lack of a better expression, it’s his outlet. It’s where he gets to go to not worry about anything but having fun. To do the biggest thing he enjoys,” Campbell said. “These are the times where he gets to release that where he doesn’t have to worry about the pressures of life, you know? What he is going to have to provide and make up for, so it’s good to be able to give that to him, and also be able to every now and then go and bump him with an elbow and go, ‘hey man, it’s ok. You can let that go. You don’t have to worry about that right now.’”

When you have family bloodlines to a PIL legend from Benson, Oregon State and NBA great AC Green, who is Christian’s great uncle - his mom’s dad’s brother, toeing the line on and off the court is what a Green does best.

“I can learn a lot from him. Just keep getting good grades in school, keep working, keep being responsible, just keep doing what I am doing,” Green said.

“I think he has done a good job of not letting that add any outside pressure to him and I don’t think his family puts any pressure on him, you know, ‘because your uncle did this, you’ve got to be close to this,’ I think they’ve done a good job or allowing him just to be Christian Green,” Campbell said.

If you know of any high school athletes who deserve some praise, reach out to Nick Krupke at or on social media via his Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram.