To say that NBA veteran DeMarre Carroll is well traveled would be quite the understatement. Now in his eighth season, the small forward has played with six teams (Memphis, Houston, Denver, Utah, Atlanta, and now Toronto) and that doesn’t include his four collegiate years split between Vanderbilt and Missouri or his time with the D-League’s Dakota Wizards.
During his time in the league, Carroll has gradually gone from role player to consistent starter who can shoot from outside and serve as a solid third or fourth offensive option. But several challenges have threatened to slow him down every step of the way. At Missouri, he was diagnosed with liver disease (something that will eventually require him to have a transplant) and was shot in the leg during a dispute at a nightclub. And then there were the chronic knee issues that took him out for 54 games during the 2016 season.
In this CSJ conversation with managing editor Chad Bonham, Carroll talks about those tough times, what it’s like being a preacher’s kid, and what Toronto needs to do to improve on last season’s impressive playoff performance:
Chad Bonham: How have you dealt with all of the challenges you’ve faced like the liver disease diagnosis during college and the injuries that have slowed you down?
DeMarre Carroll: We all go through obstacles. Some people go through more. I always believe that there’s always someone that has it worse than you. I’ve just got to keep my faith up and stay in the Word. That’s what I try to do.
Bonham: How has your unique upbringing impacted your view on life?
Carroll: My mom and my dad pastor a non-denominational church in Birmingham. I have parents that are praying for me day and night, so I feel like I’m covered. I don’t always walk the straight line that I need to walk, but I feel like that (their prayers have) helped me overcome these obstacles that I’ve had to go through.
Bonham: I would imagine that when you ask them to pray for you these days, it’s probably for you to stay healthy and avoid injury.
Carroll: For sure. You want every season to be a healthy season. But my mom always reminds me that there are a lot of things (in life) that are bigger than basketball. Basketball is a great sport, but you’ve got to distinguish between the two.
Bonham: After exceeding a lot of people’s expectations last season, what is the team’s goal going into this year?
Carroll: The biggest thing is trying to be better at the end of the year than we are at the beginning of the year. Of course, you’re not going to have the exact same year you had because teams have gotten better. We’ve made some changes. The biggest thing is just trying to go through the process as best as you can. We just want to be better when the playoffs start. That’s where all the good teams know how to turn it on. That’s what we have to learn how to do. We shouldn’t care about how many games we win early on. We’ve got to care about how we finish the season. Holding up that trophy is all that matters.
(Photos: Toronto Raptors via NBA Images; John E. Sokolowski via USA TODAY Sports)