DeMar DeRozan pulled back the curtain ever so slightly on something rarely talked about in professional sports -- mental and emotional well-being. In a world far more comfortable discussing groin pulls, ACL tears and microfracture surgery, the Toronto Raptors’ All-Star wing took to Twitter in the midst of the league’s glitzy showcase weekend, catching a lot of NBA fans by surprise:
This depression get the best of me...— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) February 17, 2018
The message was built off some song lyrics with which DeRozan was familiar, but the responses it generated from supportive fans were original and genuine. Yes, it is possible for young rich, famous athletes to struggle with moods and insecurities. Especially, in DeRozan’s case, back in his hometown of Los Angeles, site of NBA All-Star 2018 as well as the rough Compton neighborhood he escaped years ago.
DeMar DeRozan, who would seemingly have it all, knows those struggles — those times of depression, anxiety, loneliness — as well as anyone and they are his demons to deal with.
“It’s one of them things that no matter how indestructible we look like we are, we’re all human at the end of the day,” the 28-year-old Raptors All-Star said. “We all got feelings ... all of that. Sometimes ... it gets the best of you, where times everything in the whole world’s on top of you.”
At home among his family, a break from the everyday grind of NBA life upon him, DeRozan found himself in one of those dark moments in the middle of the night a week ago in Los Angeles. ...
That it came out of nowhere in the dark of the night, on an NBA All-Star weekend many thought would be a celebration for the Compton kid at home, was jarring. ... It set off a maelstrom of support throughout social media, and tossing it off just as a lyric from a song is to not do the whole issue justice.
It was a hard time. DeRozan was letting everyone know.
“I always have various nights,” he said in a wide-ranging and wildly open glimpse into his private life. “I’ve always been like that since I was young, but I think that’s where my demeanor comes from.
“I’m so quiet, if you don’t know me. I stay standoffish in a sense, in my own personal space, to be able to cope with whatever it is you’ve got to cope with.”