Joining a new team, DeMarre Carroll’s success keeps rolling in

DeMarre Carroll: “I want to help the kids’ confidence … and let them know that the harder you work, the more successful you’ll be.”
Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll (5) jumps for a rebound Dec. 6, 2014, in a contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Carroll, a Missouri Tigers basketball alumnus, scored 10 points and had eight rebounds that game. Courtesy of Atlanta Hawks

Just married, in the best playing form of his life and a child on the way, all topped off by a $12-million-plus salary raise.

Former Missouri Tiger DeMarre Carroll is on top of the world.

After his most successful season in the National Basketball League, Carroll announced his decision to leave the Atlanta Hawks and join DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry in Toronto last week.

“Congrats @DeMarreCarroll1 your hard work& great attitude continues to pay off. Toronto Raptors! #JYD,” tweeted former Mizzou coach Mike Anderson, who is also Carroll’s uncle, last Wednesday.

Carroll said in a phone interview that the Hawks weren’t among the league’s top bidders for him, and that his four other serious contenders included the Phoenix Suns, the Detroit Pistons, the Memphis Grizzlies and the New York Knicks. Ultimately, he and the Raptors agreed on a $60 million deal, jumping “The Junkyard Dog” from seventh-highest to highest-paid player on his team.

Aside from the upgraded paycheck, the Birmingham, Alabama, native said some of the biggest reasons for his decision were the Raptors’ fan base and head coach Dwane Casey, who identified his position, with hopes to “make my role even bigger.”

However, Carroll is still thankful for his time in Georgia. Carroll recently wrote a thank-you note to the people of Atlanta and the Hawks organization, published on The Players’ Tribune. “The biggest reason why I was able to play my best basketball in Atlanta is because of the organization’s player development,” he wrote in the letter. “All of the coaches worked hard to make every guy on this roster better, and they deserve a lot of credit for our team’s improvement this year.”

Along with Carroll’s personal improvement came his team’s. The Hawks finished last season with 60 wins and the best record in the Eastern Conference, compared to a 38-win year in 2013-14.

Carroll’s path to greatness in the pros was far from easy. During his career at Mizzou, he was not only shot in the ankle outside of a nightclub, but also diagnosed with a rare liver disease. Despite these threats to his future in basketball, Carroll was able to get through his illness. Although the possibility that he will need a liver transplant still exists, it won’t be necessary for the next few decades.

“I just want to be an inspiration and a role model,” he said. “(My success) just shows my dedication and all my hard work and not letting people dictate my success in my mind.”

The Junkyard Dog’s battle with the disease led him to beginning the Carroll Family Foundation, which he founded about four months ago. He said the organization is aimed at helping pediatric patients.

As a part of the development of his nonprofit, Carroll will be hosting his Next Level Basketball Camp in three different cities: Birmingham, Atlanta and Columbia.

The Columbia camp will be open to boys and girls between the ages of eight and 15 years old. It will be held at Father Tolton Catholic High School from July 21-23 and costs $175 per person.

“The camp is really to help kids,” Carroll said. “When I was a kid, I always wanted to be an NBA player. I want to help the kids’ confidence … and let them know that the harder you work, the more successful you’ll be.”

He said his camps will be “more hands-on” and that attendees “will get more out of my camp,” assuring that they leave his camp “better at one aspect of their play.”

Carroll said a big factor for bringing the camp to Columbia was his experience with the city during his two years of play with the Tigers. During his last season at Mizzou, Carroll averaged 13 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, leading his team to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.

“They taught me how to win, what it takes to win and what it takes to be successful and the hard work it takes,” he said. “(Mizzou and Columbia) helped me not only be a better basketball player, but a better person. They had a big influence on my life, so I always want to go back and make sure I give back.”

After getting married in late June, Carroll and his wife are expecting a second child. The honeymoon, however, had to wait. He said it “shows how great my wife is” that she allowed to put their vacation off while he figured out free agency.

As he begins to start a new life in Canada, Carroll attributes all of his recent successes to grit.

“It just shows that I’m getting better, and I don’t want to stop now,” Carroll said. “It’s because of hard work and determination. That’s it.”

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