Drake and Raptors announce Welcome Toronto program

TORONTO — The Raptors and Canadian rap star Drake announced plans to grow their partnership Wednesday with a new program called Welcome Toronto.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri and Drake — who has served as the team’s global ambassador since 2013 — announced the program before the Raptors’ home game against the Detroit Pistons.

The team will host six Welcome Toronto-themed home games this season — beginning Jan. 26 against the Utah Jazz — where the Raptors will wear their Drake brand OVO uniforms and debut a new black and gold home court. The other games are Jan. 28 against the L.A. Lakers, Feb. 2 against Portland, March 9 against Houston, March 23 against Brooklyn and April 6 against Indiana.

Under the program, Drake and the Raptors will donate $1 million to refurbish local community basketball courts and another $2 million to Canada Basketball.

“Over the past four years, the Raptors’ relationship with Drake has always ultimately been about celebrating this city and the people that make it unique,” said Ujiri. “We have something very special happening in Toronto and Drake is a big part of that.

“We’re looking forward to this opportunity to continue working together to inspire and support young people, to showcase this great city around the world and to grow the game of basketball.”

The Raptors and OVO have pledged $1 million over the next three years to refurbish and refresh local community basketball courts. Over the next five years, the Raptors and OVO will contribute a total of $2 million to Canada Basketball.

“As this team and Toronto continues to grow, we have seen how much we can do together,” Drake said. “Welcome Toronto is about celebrating our team and our city, but also working together to give back to the community and creating a place where the youth of our city can come together to play.

“These same courts could also potentially shape the next generation of Canadian basketball superstars.”

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