Standing Up: The Demetrius Deason Story
By: The Drive Staff
Demetrius “Juice” Deason is an up-and-coming comedian who uses his comedy platform to help people in need, a position he was once very familiar with.
Deason moved around the likes of Gardena, Compton and Inglewood, California as a child. He slept on the floor of motel rooms and some nights, he couldn’t eat dinner. He wanted to avoid going into foster care in order to keep his family together, so he started to help his single mother watch his younger siblings at the age of five, growing up a lot faster than the average kid his age.
In school, Deason was in special education until he graduated high school due to a reading disability. Juice discovered he had a reading disability due to a speech impediment that kept him from pronouncing words out loud with proper verbiage.
“As I kept getting older, it killed my confidence,” Deason said. “So basically, I kind of shut down as a kid.”
The reading disability kept Deason reading four grade levels behind his peers until he graduated from high school only one level behind. The continuous cycle of being teased at school and his problems at home led Deason to discover an escape from life: basketball.
Juice picked up the game in 4th grade, and despite not being very good initially, he fell in love with it and continuously worked to get better. By seventh grade, he realized the growth of his game and by eighth grade, the dream of playing at a higher level was becoming realistic.
It was at this time that Deason began cracking jokes on other people, opening up and talking more. In school, he was unknowingly becoming the perennial class clown.
Despite being so funny, Juice’s mind wasn’t on comedy, he wanted to play basketball, and in high school, he got to play on one of the best AAU teams in the country, with a future NBA superstar and MVP: Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook. Westbrook and Deason quickly developed a close friendship as high schoolers, one that still stands strong today.
“It’s been everything,” Deason said on Westbrook’s support. “He’s a great friend. His support and just being there for me and having my back and really believing in me has been second to none.”
After playing together in high school, Westbrook and Deason’s careers took different paths. As Westbrook went to play at UCLA, Deason attended two junior colleges in California before attending Pacific Union College.
At Pacific Union, Deason suffered a lower back injury that led to him losing his basketball scholarship. His career in sports was likely over, but the injury actually ended up being the start of Deason’s comedy career.
Now, as his career continues to ascend, Deason’s organization, Layups 2 Standup bridges the two components of the comedian’s life to make people laugh, while also giving back to the Oklahoma City community.
“I really do love giving back and helping and giving out backpacks, just donating my time,” Deason said on the organization’s work.”For me, even right now, I’ve done a lot in a couple of years. I’ve been doing comedy, but it was all about someone inspiring me.”
Once Deason established himself in the comedy scene, he presented the idea of the “Why Not” comedy show to his childhood friend Russell Westbrook as another way to positively influence the community. Westbrook immediately backed his vision and offered to help in any way he could.
For Deason, the Why Not comedy show was never about gaining followers or growing his own name, he wanted to make sure he could help the state of Oklahoma. He decided that the proceeds from the show would be donated to a different charity each year with the plan to make a difference in the community.
Now in its third year, the Why Not comedy show continues grow and surpass Deason’s expectations.
“It’s a great feeling to see something that you created and brought into the universe be successful,” Deason said on the strides he’s made in his career. “It really makes me believe anything is possible, and the sky's the limit, especially for a kid that was in special education from LA.”
When Deason realized the impact of the Why Not comedy show, he continued to show his helping hand by giving other comedians an opportunity to grow their platform through LayUps 2 StandUp.
“I have a message, I have a brand that I want to push,” Deason said, “I really want it to impact not just my community but the communities throughout the world.”
Contributors: Caleb Akpan, Andrew Martin & Marcus Carr.