Cory Joseph: local boy makes good.
By Jennifer Lee
Photography by Christopher Wahl
Point guard Cory Joseph might play for love of the game, but on the court, he shines with love of teamwork.
Whether it’s hitting a buzzer beater that takes Team Canada to the podium at the FIBA Americas or sinking a three-pointer late in the game to put the Toronto Raptors ahead, Cory is at his best when the pressure is on and fellow players need him.
At 25 years old, the Pickering native has already reached career heights.
Since joining the NBA in 2011, Cory has done everything in between becoming a Raptors fan favourite (that’ll happen when Drake dons your jersey and gives you a shout-out in a track) to leading the Canadian national team as captain in 2016.
Known for clutch plays, Cory comes in with real-life game changers when he’s off the court and giving back to his community.
The list of charities the athlete supports runs long, including the MLSE Foundation, SickKids and Holiday Helpers Canada—a GTA-based organization that helps bring gifts and cheer to low-income homes during the holiday season.
Pushing forward positive impacts through organizations like these—on top of “investing in youth” through basketball camps—is something that comes as natural to this Raptor as ball-handling. In fact, Cory sees his charitable efforts as an extension of his identity as a Canadian. Just ask him about his favourite line in the national anthem—“with glowing hearts we see thee rise”—for the reasoning behind his sentiment. “As Canadians, we are uniquely gifted with an amazing capacity for compassion: ‘glowing hearts,’ and we use that gift of compassion to help others rise up,” he explains.
Cory is known for his dedication (he’s been referred to as the “heart” and “soul” of the Raptors by none other than head coach Dwane Casey), so it’s no wonder that he should admire the commitment of the young change-makers strengthening Canada’s future—youth like Newcastle student, Jessica van der Veer.
A recent recipient of the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers, Jessica, who was adopted by her family at age six, is a long-time volunteer with the Adoption Council of Ontario’s Youth Network Group, where she helps raise public awareness. With teens like Jessica standing up and representing the next generation, Cory is confident that youth are already the leaders of today. “It’s empowering to see how youth are making an impact in Canada,” he says. “Jessica’s hard work and dedication to support a cause she is passionate about really impressed me… and she’s from Durham!”
Read on to learn why Cory is banking on Canada as a power forward on the international court, fueled by unity and led by team spirit.
Why is “we” stronger than “me?”
My whole life I have seen how much stronger “we” can be than just “me.” I couldn’t have achieved my dreams without help. Teamwork isn’t just important on the basketball court. We need to work as a team in everyday experiences to achieve all of our dreams and help others achieve their dreams.
What is the kindest action you’ve been on the receiving end of, and what about the gesture touched you personally?
After The NBA Playoffs last year, I came home late at night to find a sign on my doorstep that said “congratulations on a good year” from some kids in my neighbourhood. Although we did not make it as far as we wanted to in the playoffs, this was special to me because these kids took the time to congratulate me and let me know that they were inspired and happy by our performance.
Fill in the blank: Moving forward into the next 150 years, our country needs [blank] in order to build a more caring and compassionate Canada.
We need more people to speak up, to speak when others are too afraid or unable. Voices like ours can bring a murmur to a roar and make a difference.
Describe the core values of your ideal Canada.
Open and inclusive—where all people feel free to think, act and look however they want. A place where we listen to others and try to understand someone else’s perspective when it is different from our own.
As we work to make Canada a better country, what is one action you would like people to take?
Get involved. Help your neighbour, your community, your country. There’s a lot we can do as nation to help others that are not be able to help themselves. You can donate your time to a local organization that is in need of volunteers—food banks are a good example and always in need of volunteers. Taking time to support a person or a cause goes a long way and has more impact than we realize.