DeMar DeRozan is concerned with how childhood experiences have influenced his attitude to the police.
In an open letter from PEOPLE, the security guard from San Antonio Spurs and the American from Compton, California revealed how racism and police brutality taught him what it means to be black in America.
"When I was growing up, I often asked myself why it was so difficult for my close friends and relatives to find a job," he begins the letter. “Many just tried to do the right thing after getting in trouble. Why should nobody hire them? It was only years later when I was a teenager that the answer to the law enforcement authorities made me realize the answer. "
He continued: “As a student at Compton High School, my friends and I were regular police targets. They assumed we were gang members just because we were in a group, or did things just to mess with us. I once arrested a cousin who had done nothing wrong after the police said, "Well, someone has to go to jail today." I remember an older friend who was killed when the police killed him He slept in the window of his car. "
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The 11-year-old NBA veteran later said that after a while he realized that there were two different Americas and that this motivated him to become the best that he could be.
"Over time, I realized that this treatment wasn't just because the police did their job. It was a little bit more." I understood the struggles my loved ones faced when I was younger – things were more difficult for us in America just because we were blacks, ”he said. “This gave me the motivation to do everything I could to live a better life. But for other people I grew up with, they were rebellious, hateful, and aggressive towards any kind of authority. I totally understand why. "
DeMar DeRozan has used his own struggle as inspiration to become an outspoken advocate of mental health awareness. He has also previously revealed his own difficulties in dealing with depression and anxiety.
Last October, DeRozan used its social media to remove the stigma of mental illness on World Mental Health Day.
"There should be no shame or stigma for anyone working to make their mental health a priority," DeRozan tweeted, encouraging his supporters to support NBA star Kevin Love's fund, which was launched in 2018 to do that promote physical and mental well-being. Both Love and DeRozan made headlines when they unveiled the fight against major depression.
The two also appeared in an NBA ad that promoted mental wellbeing.
Read the full open letter from DeMar DeRozan here.