Talk about “life in hell” and reliving your worst nightmare over and over again — that was what Toronto Raptors leader and shooting guard, DeMar DeRozan, was up against during his childhood. He had to overcome one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the entire U.S., which was Compton, California. But just because he grew up in a hostile environment — Compton is still the city that forged him.
“Growing up in Compton made me who I am today,” DeRozan acknowledged.
And now, look where he is, facing LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the second consecutive year. That is quite astounding.
Full Name: DeMar Darnell DeRozan
Birthdate: August 7, 1989
Birth Place: Compton, Calif.
Team: Toronto Raptors / NBA
Let’s just say, DeRozan hasn’t changed since he first picked up a basketball. How so? Well, at age 11, he was already an impressive young talent with his ability to attack the rim, quickly becoming one of the most desired assets in California basketball.
Then, DeRozan’s stage presence began to shine on the court. While he attended Compton High School, we watched DeRozan win the McDonald’s High School Slam Dunk Championship. But is that it? Not even close. As a senior, he led the school to a 26-6 record. On top of that, a second consecutive Moore League Championship and was awarded the Moore League Most Valuable Player Award and named to the California All-State team. And better than all of that, he was ranked as one of the top college recruits in the nation from the class of 2008.
Everyone watched DeRozan take his high-flying act to University of Southern California (USC) over top programs such as Arizona State and even the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Throughout his college years with the Trojans, he managed to win the Pac-11 MVP award and scored 21 points along with a career-high 13 rebounds against UCLA in the conference tournament semifinals. So, if that doesn’t ‘Wow’ you, how about the fact that he started all 35 season games with the Trojans, scoring in double figures 28 times and posting four double-doubles.
Despite DeRozan not being able to replicate such success in the NCAA tournament, it was enough for the Toronto Raptors to choose him 9th overall in the 2009 NBA draft. And there is nobody on the Raptors that looks reinvented to the extent of DeRozan. The 28-year-old has attained a level of significance that previously eluded him, both for his on-court endeavors and his off-court openness.
Now, let’s fast-forward today, the Cleveland Cavaliers came-from-behind to take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on the road, largely in part, because ‘The King’ was just unstoppable, scoring 26 points with 11 rebounds and 13 assists. Also, don’t forget, the Cavaliers have squashed the Raptors dreams of playoff glory in each of the past two seasons. So, of course, everyone is wondering during these playoffs, “Can things really change?” Because a series win against one of the best teams in the NBA, the Cavaliers, for DeRozan and the Raptors, would be cathartic, and a sign that things can hopefully change.
If there is one goal on the NBA All-Star’s mind — that is for the Raptors to win their first NBA championship since joining the NBA in the 1995-96 season. And this year could be that special moment for DeRozan. Why’s that? Because the Cavaliers were in the midst of a roller coaster season and the Raptors have exploded behind a new offense and an incredible bench. Most importantly, the NBA fans can be in for a crazy scenario if the Cavaliers or Warriors don’t make the NBA Finals.
DeMar DeRozan Contract & Career Stats
DeMar DeRozan signed a five-year, $139 million contract with the Toronto Raptors which included $137.5 million guaranteed and an annual average salary of $27.8 million.
Throughout his NBA career, DeRozan has averaged 19.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.