CLEVELAND – Inside Club 28’s booth at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, proudly seated Diane DeRozan, who patiently waited to hear her son be announced as the NBA All-Star Player for the first time in four years. Several NBA All-Stars who are like DeMar DeRozan’s younger brothers were announced in front of him while his family members applauded knowing about the ties. Diane took out her mobile camera and captured the moment she lost her late husband with tears in her eyes.
“It feels so amazing. I hate that my husband is not here this year,” Diane DeRozan told The Undefeated ahead of the 2022 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday. “This winger is not the same without him here. He would never miss a match. He was always on time…
“He was always his dad. So, that’s why it’s so important for me to be here. But that’s so amazing, and we’re so happy for him. He’s actually smiling. It’s good to see your baby happy.”
A year and a day ago, Frank’s father, DeMar DeRozan, passed away from a long illness in Los Angeles. The death of the Chicago Bulls star’s father made every moment with his mother, three daughters, family and close friends all the more precious. With his mother and aunt’s battle with lupus in mind, he was able to get special attention from the NBA to secure one of the top wards at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in midcourt. Meanwhile, his two eldest daughters were sitting near the ground to be closer to their father.
This family consideration by DeRozan was reminiscent of his father’s deeds.
“You just have so many opportunities to do that and share this,” DeMar DeRozan told The Undefeated. “You don’t want to look back and say some people missed it. It’s true that some of the people I wish were here couldn’t make it through. But for the most part, you just do your best and understand that you’ve made it to this point.
“My father was the only person who understood the value of family, friends and enjoying life. My whole life, one of my biggest gifts and curses, is how big my heart is. I always try to give that feeling to people, for sure.”
Diane DeRozan said of her son: “He has always taken good care of us. He loves family.”
For DeRozan, his sense of family extends far beyond his blood relatives. All-NBA stars like Bulls teammate Zach Lavigne, James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers, Jason Tatum of the Boston Celtics, and two of his former teammates, Dejaunt Murray of the San Antonio Spurs and Fred Vanfleet of the Toronto Raptors, are among his closest league friends. DeRozan has been known to text or FaceTime his closest NBA friends weekly to check their safety off the field.
He is also known to be quite honest. The conversation doesn’t always revolve around basketball. And when Tatum, Murray, and VanVleet talk about DeRozan, it’s with big brother reverence.
“In the business, it’s the closest you can get to a brother,” said VanVleet, the first-time All-Star who recalled DeRozan going to G League matches. “I told him I love him like my mother loves him. This is the closest to someone. He and [ex-Raptors teammate] Kyle [Lowry] They are mentors and brothers to me on and off the field. [DeRozan] He is one of the best players in the game, which makes it even more special to have a guy of this stature put his arm around me and show me so much love.
“It’s just loyalty and support. He’ll ride with you, right or wrong. When you’re wrong, he’ll tell you you’re wrong. When you’re right, he’ll give you that support and love. He checks in. He’s constant.”
DeRozan was dealt from Toronto to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard in July 2018. After arriving in San Antonio, Murray said, the first thing DeRozan did after getting off the plane was shooting at the Tottenham training facility. Murray just happened to be there, and the two have been close ever since.
“There I was like, ‘This guy is serious,'” said Murray, who gave DeRozan a hilarious boost after scoring during Sunday’s All-Star Game. This is someone I call my brother. This is a family. We talk every day.
“He checked me in. I check on him, whether it’s about family, kids or basketball. I just learn from him to be a professional too. It’s all about longevity. As we can see, he is 30 years old and plays the best basketball of his career. This Right there it speaks for itself.”
Tatum and DeRozan were never NBA teammates, but they do have a close relationship. They regularly FaceTime, including DeRozan talking to the Celtics star’s 4-year-old son, Deuce, who was on the NBA All-Star Game.
Tatum credits DeRozan for helping him mentally get through the Celtics’ struggles last season.
“We talked a few times about how to run a season because the first three years for me I used to win almost every night, then last year we were 0.500,” Tatum said. “Just going through the ups and downs of the season while I was the guy but still one of the younger players on the team, it was just a little more difficult. It helped me a lot.”
With the DeRozan and LaVine Championships, the Bulls are currently tied for the Miami Heat with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 38-21. In his first season in Chicago, DeRozan has perhaps the best season of his career and is a racing MVP, averaging 28.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists. He became the first player in NBA history to score 35 points or more and shoot 50% or better off the field in seven consecutive games, and was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week three times this season.
Lavigne said DeRozan is already having a “great” positive effect on him.
“To add another man who has been in these positions at the highest level in these big games, where we haven’t been there before… He’s been in the Eastern Conference Finals a few times and been in big moments, being calm is always something that helps our team,” Lavigne said.
Diane DeRozan said that since her son joined the Bulls, he’s started smiling again in a way she hasn’t seen since the birth of his first child. She believes that a lot of his stress had passed because he wasn’t worried about the pain his father had been going through on a daily basis for years.
DeRozan has been to Los Angeles regularly to visit his ailing father while playing for the Raptors and Tottenham in recent years. It was not unusual for DeRozan to take a private jet on holidays to spend time with his father. He even took a trip from Boston to Los Angeles to see “The Big Dog,” as he lovingly called out to his dad. according to San Antonio Express NewsFrank DeRozan had kidney disease, among other medical problems.
“He used to weigh him down a lot when he was in San Antonio,” said Diane DeRozan. “He will never walk away from his father, but he talks about him all the time, and he is only sad that he cannot see him. He loved him so much.”
After Frank DeRozan’s death, DeMar’s NBA brothers were immediately there as a shoulder to cry on.
“You want to be there for him,” Vanfleet said. “You want to give guys their space. But I always reach out to see how they feel. But you can never tell someone the right thing in that moment. Check in. Do your due diligence and wait for the conversation to come back.”
“I’m definitely with these guys when things happen in their personal lives, I just try to be that open door to venting or being there to talk to them.”
Diane DeRozan isn’t a huge fan of all of her son’s tattoos, though she loved having her name inked on one of his hands. She also loved the most recent photo: an old photo of her dad’s famous Canadian artist Steve Webby tattooed on his left shoulder in June 2021. The 6-foot-6 marksman also wanted a “RIP Big Dog” on his left biceps.
With Frank DeRozan’s face on her son, Diane DeRozan believes her late husband is always with him on the basketball floor and everywhere.
“When he got his dad tattooed, it looked like his dad was completely behind him, and that gives him a lot of relief. It was really hard for him,” said Diane DeRozan.
DeRozan expressed his pride that Murray became an All-Star for the first time. Murray said he had a hard time finding the right words for his friend after DeRozan’s father passed away, but told him he was there for whatever he needed and would fly to Los Angeles if he needed support.
Murray’s older sister, Tish, died unexpectedly last summer. DeRozan was one of the first people invited by the Spurs guard.
“When I lost my sister last summer, I cried on the phone to Demar. A lot of people don’t know it. That speaks volumes about our relationship there,” Murray said.
“He calmed me down. He reminded me of where I am. I keep my position. God is in control of it all. I see him and I love him. This is my brother.”
So why does DeRozan always do his best to help others? His mother says that because of his humility, great heart, he really cares about others and because he is loyal. She added that he thinks he should guide his fellow NBA juniors because when he was a homesick rookie in 2009, former Raptors star Chris Bosh took him under his wing.
One of DeRozan’s newest trainees is Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu, who saw him play in the NBA All-Star Rising Stars Challenge on Friday. DeRozan also attended Dosunmu’s jersey retirement at the University of Illinois.
“It makes him feel good as a person, because he knows what it takes every step of the way,” said Diane DeRozan.
On Sunday, DeRozan scored 10 points, five assists and four rebounds in LeBron’s 163-160 victory over Team Durant. After LeBron James hit the game-winning Ohio player, DeRozan bumped the former Cleveland Cavaliers star in the chest.
This was DeRozan’s fifth appearance on the NBA All-Star Game. But at 32 and four years from his previous All-Star appearance, the 13-year-old NBA veteran would really appreciate being voted on as a starter.
“You definitely look at it differently,” DeRozan said. “You accept it differently. And you value it differently just from the point of view that when you go from being a steady star to having a few years where you can’t make it, you get there not just as a spare but as a novice. It’s an honor. You just look forward. to enjoy it.”
Besides being a multi-star in the NBA, DeRozan was a two-time All-NBA pick, won an Olympic gold medal in 2016 with USA Basketball and was a McDonald’s All-American. However, the most important thing missing from his resume is the NBA championship.
Diane DeRozan says the only thing she needs in her life is “Jesus and Demar.” But what she wants most for her son, whom she affectionately calls “D,” is to finally take the elusive NBA title with the Bulls this season.
“That’s it. That’s it,” said Diane DeRozan. “I was praying for it. I was praying so much. He deserves one. He is coming.”