Bulls forward DeRozan talks father's passing, mental health


DeMar DeRozan is a long-time advocate of promoting mental health. 

He's admitted to his struggles before and even caught a glimpse of it during his free agency period in the summer of 2021 when he said he didn't get out of bed for four days

Nonetheless, there's times when even the best athletes in the world get down on themselves, including Bulls forward, DeRozan. But, he has a way of making sense of it and provides insightful guidance on how he handles tough situations. 

"Man, you know, I'd be lying to tell you that I didn't have days where, you know, it just got extremely heavy," DeRozan said on The Draymond Green Show. "You know, you kind of just shut down and take a moment to yourself to kind of regroup. My favorite saying to myself was always 'Make something bad that happened make sense down the line.' Whatever that may be. That's all I used to tell myself. Let me make this negative make sense down the line. And I always told myself whenever I got down, whenever I felt a certain type of way. Whether if it was being a trying to be a better son, be a better father, be a better friend, be a better basketball player. It was always trying to find different elements of just trying to be better, to make sense of the negative that I'm going through."

One of the times DeRozan experienced depression was after he lost his dad, who died of several illnesses back in February of 2021. DeRozan inked a tattoo of his father on his left shoulder that's noticeable while he plays on the court. 

DeRozan credits his father for a lot of his success in the NBA. He showed up to every practice and every game to help DeMar succeed. He claims he was the only man he ever "feared."

"I think when I lost my dad, it opened me up to accept being, in a sense, vulnerable," DeRozan said. "Vulnerable, accepting life in a different light because you start to realize, you know the saying 'Nothing is promised' but you get a different sense of it. When something of that magnitude hit you. He was only man I feared in. When I say fear, it was never meant in a negative light. But it was always, 'I don't want to let you down.'"

DeRozan had a close bond with his dad. One of the anecdotes he shared was about when his father would put him in a dark closet. DeMar would "kick and scream," but his dad would never let him out. 

It wasn't until one day his dad put him in there that he stopped begging to be let out. That's when he realized he wasn't afraid of the dark anymore. Before stumbling on the term, DeRozan meant to say he experienced systematic desensitization. It's when you experience anxiety provoking situations so much you become used to it. 

To that, DeRozan tattooed the Bane quote: "Oh, you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding."

Without his dad, DeRozan will never be the same he was before. But, he believes he's grown from it and accepts that his pain is one of the beautiful things about life. 

"Exactly what you said when I lost my dad, I lost myself for a while," DeRozan said. "That's crazy you said that because I haven't had a conversation with somebody who put it in the same terms that you just put it in. You hit it on the head. Like, you know, I put myself in a lot of s--t where if he was here, I never would have put myself in."

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