Sports always tell us wonderful stories of overcoming difficulties and even bad habits thanks to determination, hard work, discipline, talent, and of course, a bit of luck. So today, we’re going to tell you the story of one of the biggest NBA stars nowadays, the Toronto Raptors leader and shooting guard: DeMar DeRozan.
Born and raised in Compton, California, DeRozan had to overcome one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the entire US, home to some of the greatest hip hop performances in history, but also several gangs and criminals.
At age 11, DeMar was already an impressive young talent with his ability to attack the rim, quickly becoming one of the most desired assets in California basketball, ranked top 5 in the nation while attending Compton High School.
#InHighSchool I wore blue everyday.
— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) November 3, 2010
DeRozan grew up in a hostile environment with several members of his family shot dead in the proximities of his own house, although his known talent made all the thugs in the neighborhood protect the talented athlete and his remaining family members, constantly cheering and encouraging him to get better and better, as the scorer was the ultimate pride of Compton.
Then, after completely dominating and destroying every opponent in high school, the athletic freak committed to play for USC over top programs such as ASU and even the North Carolina Tar Heels, progressing as a basketball player and having to develop his midrange shot, an ability that he lacked through his high school years as he only had to attack the rim against poor defenders.
Struggling a bit to develop his shot, DeRozan still managed to win the Pac-10 MVP award due to his great effort to carry his team into the final, and even if he wasn’t able to replicate such success in the NCAA tournament, it was enough for the Raptors to choose him 9th overall in the 2009 NBA draft.
Nonetheless, it didn’t get much easier, as DeMar was really a below average player through his first couple of years in the Association due to his lack of shooting and questionable defense.
Still, that didn’t stop him from hitting the gym night in and night out, progressing in pretty much every single aspect of his game to become one of the NBA’s biggest stars and leading scorers with his contested mid-range turnarounds and fadeaways, and the sky seems to be the limit for a guy that grew in one of America’s most dangerous places.
So clearly, besides basketball, it’s no surprise at all that the Olympic champion and most valuable player of the Raptors was once closely tied to one of Compton’s gangs, and he often recognizes his roots when throwing up hand signs resembling that of the ‘Crips’ when he performs an impressive play.
DeMar stays humble and doesn’t forget where he came from, but clearly that doesn’t mean he was a thug or a gang member during his early years. Instead, it tells us the story of a guy that overcame hard times, a broken family and an ill mother to now average 27.3 points, 5.2 boards, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game on 46.7% from the floor, making it to 3 All-Star games and being arguably the best player to ever wear a Raptors uniform.