All about the kids for new­est Rap­tor

Demarre Car­roll an­nounces new chil­dren’s char­ity and says he’s ready to bring JYD 2.0 to Toronto, re­call­ing fan favourite Jerome ‘Junk­yard Dog’ Wil­liams’ te­na­cious de­fense

Richmond Hill Post - - The 905 - by Ron John­son

You had a great year with the At­lanta Hawks, one of the top teams in the east. What made you de­cide to leave?

There was al­ready a win­ning pro­gram, great in­di­vid­u­als, all-star guards in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The or­ga­ni­za­tion came in and made me and my fam­ily part of the or­ga­ni­za­tion. And Toronto fans are some of the best in the world. Ba­si­cally, those were the key things for me. And they also of­fered me a big­ger role.

Upon your sign­ing with the Raps, you in­voked the name of one of the most pop­u­lar play­ers in team history, Jerome “Junk­yard Dog” Wil­liams. Why him?

Yup, that’s my game. It re­flects my game. Junk­yard, he’s shown me great re­spect and al­lowed me to, you know, use that name, Junk­yard 2.0. He’s re­ally en­gag­ing me, and he un­der­stands how hard I play when I step on the court. Hav­ing JYD 2.0 just adds a lit­tle flavour, and hope­fully peo­ple can get be­hind that from the first game.

Have you spent much time in Toronto yet?

I went there for the press con­fer­ence, and I’m look­ing for hous­ing for me and my wife. We had a nice group of media. I can only imag­ine how many fans are go­ing to show up.

At­lanta had some rough years, a lot of empty are­nas, and you’re com­ing to a pretty good bas­ket­ball town. What’s job num­ber one for you to show the fans you mean busi­ness?

First and fore­most to do the nitty-gritty things. That’s what the Junk­yard do, the lit­tle things to pro­tect the junk­yard and pro­tect my team on the de­fen­sive end.

You had a quiet start to your ca­reer and bounced around a bit be­fore At­lanta, and now you’re con­sid­ered one of the bet­ter de­fen­sive play­ers in the league. What hap­pened?

I think the NBA is all about op­por­tu­nity. I didn’t have a lot of op­por­tu­nity early in my ca­reer. I’m a strong be­liever in mak­ing the best of your op­por­tu­ni­ties.… If you make the best of it, you’ll be suc­cess­ful is al­ways my mind­set. When it came knock­ing at my door, it came knock­ing in the mid­dle of my ca­reer. But I have no re­grets. I had a lot of ob­sta­cles and that helped me take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties I got.

Tell me about your own ex­pe­ri­ence with liver dis­ease and your thoughts when first di­ag­nosed.

It was def­i­nitely a scary mo­ment.… My fam­ily re­ally got in­volved and helped me un­der­stand I still can be suc­cess­ful and can con­tinue to have great life with the dis­ease. It re­ally eased my nerves, and I’m try­ing to reach out to peo­ple in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion and

let them know the same thing.

Why did you de­cide to start a kids’ foun­da­tion to raise aware­ness and funds for re­search into pe­di­atric liver dis­ease?

Ba­si­cally, bring­ing aware­ness of the dis­ease to in­di­vid­u­als is near to my heart. I’m a liv­ing wit­ness of the con­di­tion, and I un­der­stand you can be suc­cess­ful with this type of dis­ease. It’s some­thing dear to my heart.

What do you hope to ac­com­plish?

Reach out to in­di­vid­u­als and put a smile on those kids’ faces go­ing through the same thing. Just be a role model.

Who were some of your bas­ket­ball he­roes grow­ing up?

My he­roes grow­ing up were more fam­ily based. My dad was a big role model to me. My older brother who passed away. My cousin, T. J. Cleve­land, who coaches in Arkansas, stepped into my brother’s place, when he passed.

What can you tell us about your­self that we don’t al­ready know from the stat sheets and high­light reels?

Off the court and out­side of the arena, I like to bowl. I’m go­ing to get some bowl­ing tour­na­ments go­ing in Toronto for the fans.

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