By Scott T. Sterling
Drake and the Toronto Raptors are getting together to give back.
The rapper and his hometown NBA team have announced a $3 million Canadian donation to be shared across a pair of basketball-focused initiatives (via Billboard).
One million is slated to upgrade a dozen local community basketball courts, while the other two million will be given to stalwart nonprofit federation Basketball Canada, whose mission statement is to “aspire to excellence in leading the growth and development of the game at home, and in pursuing medal performances on the international stage.”
The initiative was announced last night (Jan. 17) at the Raptors’ Air Canada Centre with a press conference held by Drake and Raptors President Masai Ujiri.
The pair also revealed “Welcome Toronto” project, which is described by the team as “an immersive brand experience focused on art, community and ball.” It will include six OVO-themed Raptors’ games for each of the next three NBA seasons. There will also be new OVO-edition uniforms and an OVO-designed black and gold home court.
“It’s nice to have the uniforms and the fancy court and the merchandise and stuff like that, but what was most important to me was just the call to action,” Drake said at the press conference. “In this day and age, it’s really easy to go on social media and talk about things that we’d like to see change or things that we think are wrong, then there’s an opportunity, when you’re presented with one, to be able to do something about it.”
“The biggest thing I’m most proud of with this partnership is the million dollars that we’re going to be giving to the city to redo these courts and, hopefully, to create an amazing atmosphere for anyone in that community to come out and either play casual basketball or potentially breed the next generation of Canadian basketball superstars, which goes to our other donation of 2 million dollars to Canada Basketball who have produced incredible talent.”
The Welcome Toronto OVO-Raptors partnership starts on Jan. 26 against the Utah Jazz, followed by Jan. 28 against the L.A. Lakers. The Raptors will wear the new OVO uniforms and debut the OVO-designed home court.
The other OVO games are Feb. 2 (vs. Portland Trail Blazers), March 9 (vs. Houston Rockets), March 23 (vs. Brooklyn Nets) and April 6 (vs. Indiana Pacers).