DON’T WORRY WE GOT YOU, DE­MAR

Raps fans rally af­ter all-star talks de­pres­sion

StarMetro Vancouver - - News -

When Chris Bosh left the Rap­tors for the Mi­ami Heat in 2010, a young De­mar Derozan reached out to com­fort and in­spire aban­doned Toronto fans with a brash tweet: “Don’t worry, I got us.”

De­spite four all-star se­lec­tions since then, while rewrit­ing the fran­chise record book — and lead­ing the team to its fifth straight NBA play­off ap­pear­ance next month — the Rap­tors’ 28-year-old fran­chise player caught on­look­ers by sur­prise when he re­vealed his strug­gles with de­pres­sion. Fans are ral­ly­ing to show him their sup­port and ap­pre­ci­a­tion with Project Don’t Worry We Got You.

“De­mar is a su­per­hero. He’s in­vin­ci­ble. Watch­ing him play, we didn’t know what’s go­ing on in his life,” said Syed Hasny of Mil­ton, Ont. Derozan’s tweet on NBA all-star week­end in Fe­bru­ary — “This de­pres­sion gets the best of me” — was shrugged off by fans as a quote from a song lyric un­til he told Torstar’s Doug Smith that de­spite all his fame and money, there are “times ev­ery­thing in the whole world’s on top of you.”

“That’s a pretty strong state­ment from some­body with his stature,” Hasny said of Derozan’s tweet.

“His fa­ther is very sick and his mother has Lu­pus. It would be nice to show our ap­pre­ci­a­tion and sup­port for all that he has done.”

Derozan’s com­ments drew an out­pour­ing of sup­port from fans and fel­low ath­letes, in­clud­ing Cleve­land Cava­liers all-star Kevin Love, who de­tailed his own bat­tle with anx­i­ety in an on­line per­sonal es­say.

Ear­lier this month, Hasny, a Mcmaster Univer­sity psy­chol­ogy stu­dent, asked the Rap­tors’ fan group on Red­dit for ideas to do some­thing to ex­press their grat­i­tude to Derozan.

Oth­ers quickly re­sponded and they de­cided to create a book filled with mes­sages from fans for Derozan to see. The re­sponse was over­whelm­ing.

An ini­tial tar­get of $80 through Gofundme was quickly passed and funds have bal­looned to $1,000. More than 100 peo­ple sent in let­ters of sup­port or shared their strug­gles.

The ad­di­tional money will be donated to Lu­pus Canada.

Seven­teen-year-old Aleks San­je­vic was among the Rap­tors fans to re­spond.

“We band to­gether and are like a big fam­ily. We don’t see each other, but we talk of­ten like friends. See­ing your favourite player go­ing through hard times, it hurts you a lit­tle bit,” said the Bramp­ton, Ont., teen, who has known peo­ple around him tor­tured by men­tal health ill­nesses.

Derozan said he’s been over­whelmed in gen­eral by the sup­port from fans and the bas­ket­ball world.

No mat­ter how in­de­struc­tible we look like we are, we’re all hu­man at the end of the day. De­mar Derozan

RICK MADONIK TORSTAR NEWS SER­VICE

De­mar Derozan, who was named the NBA East­ern Con­fer­ence’s player of the week, has re­cently opened up about his strug­gles with de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety.

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