Fans tell Raptors' DeRozan they've got his back amid depression
Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) gets the ball away from Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) during the first half on an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
Kayla Goodfield, CTV News Toronto
Published Tuesday, March 13, 2018 9:16PM EDT
Toronto Raptors fans have coined an initiative to let guard Demar DeRozan know they’ve got his back.
Last month, the NBA all-star and Olympic gold medallist opened up about his ongoing struggle with depression.
While in his hometown of Los Angeles on Feb. 17 for the NBA All-Star Game DeRozan tweeted, “this depression get the best of me.”
Since then the basketball star said an outpour of support has made him feel “pretty damn good.”
A group of three Toronto Raptors fans joined that support by creating a project called “Don’t Worry We Got You.”
The project name comes from a 2010 tweet by DeRozan who said “don’t worry, I got us” after Chris Bosh left Toronto for the Miami Heat.
Two of the founders, Aleks Sanjevic and Judith Wang, sat down with CP24 on Tuesday to discuss why they decided to rally behind their sports idol.
“We’re so appreciative of Demar because he’s such a high-caliber player – he’s a superstar who really embraced Toronto when no other players in the past have and he really embraces the idea that he is from Toronto,” Wang said. “To see him go through this is very hard on all of his fans – not only in Toronto but all over the world.”
“We just want to show him that we’re all behind him and we are here for him to just give him words of support.”
For this initiative the trio aims to compile messages of support for DeRozan in a notebook that they hope to give to him before the playoffs.
“(We want him to) have something to read in between the games,” Wang said.
Sanjevic said this project is meant to help everyone who is suffering.
“We’ve gotten lots of messages from even seniors who have been watching since day one and I mean honestly I’ve been a fan for only a few years, about five, but seeing people talk about it like that and show how much passion they have for Demar and even some people who have reached out and discussed how they have dealt with mental health and their issues,” he said.
“I know some people personally who have been affected by it so this project really means a lot and I’m doing it not only for Demar but also for my friends who are suffering.”
Wang and Sanjevic said even though they are overwhelmed by the response they have received, they are working tirelessly to sift through submissions and fill up this notebook of support.
“When we started out we just expected it to be between our small Internet community on Reddit and we set our goal for the GoFundMe to be only $80 and we only expected around 100 or so messages but since then the outpour has been so amazing and totally unexpected,” Wang said.
So far, more than 100 people have submitted their words to the project, which is accepting content until March 23. Submissions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DeRozan was named the NBA Eastern Conference player of the week for the second consecutive week on Monday. He has now received the title five times this season.
DeRozan had 42 points as the Toronto Raptors beat the Detroit Pistons in overtime on Wednesday night. He also scored 23 points during the Raptors’ win against the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
As of Monday, the four-time all-star was ranked 13th in NBA scoring, averaging 23.7 points through 66 games.
The Toronto Raptors face the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.