By Dennis J. Freeman
COMPTON — DeMar DeRozan always makes time to come back home. The NBA star has never left behind the neighborhood, nor the community where he grew up.
Now a member of the San Antonio Spurs, DeRozan dropped back into his old Compton neighborhood Nov. 16 to pass out an estimated 1,000 turkeys to families and local residents. According to Compton City Councilman Isaac Galvan, who helped set up the free turkey giveaway at DeMar DeRozan Gymnasium, the former Compton High School and USC star paid for all the turkeys.
“It’s a great event,” Galvan said. “DeMar paid for all the turkeys, all the papers, everything at the event and he allowed me to be part of the event. I’m just grateful.
“It just shows that a guy who came from this community and has been in the NBA for 10 years, an NBA All-Star, a gold medalist, and I think he leads the league in scoring … comes back and gives out turkeys to the community he came from. I’m just glad to be part of it. It just shows the kind of character he has and what kind of man his father raised.”
Galvan said he got an opportunity to meet DeRozan when he first ran for office through his father, who worked for the city of Compton. Through that relationship, Galvan has been able to establish his own relationship with DeRozan.
“I met him when I became a councilman five years ago,” Galvan said. His dad was an employee of the city, filming our council meetings, so we naturally hit it off.
Galvan’s colleague on the Compton City Council, Janna Zurita, also was in attendance. Zurita said she just wanted to support what Councilman Galvan was doing.
“It’s a whole lot of turkeys here and it’s a whole lot of people,” Zurita said. “I’m just here to support my colleague’s giveaway to kick off the holiday season here in the city of Compton. This is when we get our joy of being an elected official — to make family smiles, to provide a meal for a needy family, and just seeing people so grateful to get a turkey, some of the things that we kind of take for granted in life. It’s an honor to be here and I’m truly humbled to be here supporting this turkey giveaway.”
Just the night before the event, DeRozan scored 34 points against the Los Angeles Clippers in the Spurs’ 116-111 defeat at Staples Center. So, the fact he had to get up and be ready for the early morning event, which began at 9 a.m., was quite impressive.
“Man, I’m just trying to give back to the community I grew up in, just trying to help change lives and make sure people feel good going into the holidays,” DeRozan said.