DON’T WORRY WE GOT YOU, DEMAR
Raps fans rally after all-star talks depression
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
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.