The Reason Drake Almost Quit Degrassi

Before he became the rap superstar we know today, Drake starred as Jimmy Brooks in the popular teen show "Degrassi: The Next Generation." The actor-turned-rapper appeared on the show for eight seasons, from 2001 until 2009 (per Degrassi Fandom). On the show, Drake's character is a teenage basketball star, who loses the ability to walk after being injured in a school shooting.

For his role as Jimmy Brooks, Drake won Best Ensemble in a TV series at the 2002 Young Artist Awards, as per IMDb. And even after becoming a popular rapper, Drake paid homage to his "Degrassi" days in several songs, especially since the show apparently made him lots of money. "Half a million dollars later and my taxes paid," Drake rapped on the Kanye West-produced track "You Know, You Know" in 2016 (via Genius). "And I'm still spendin' money from my actin' days."

Funny enough, the "God's Plan" rapper once revealed that he thought he bombed his "Degrassi" audition ... mainly because he showed up stoned. "That was my first time [smoking], and we did it out of a starts with a 'B' ends with a 'ong,'" he once told Jimmy Fallon (via HuffPost). "It was crazy because I started really getting paranoid, I thought I'd just completely ruined my life," Drake admitted. "I started splashing water on my face constantly, it was like a Clearasil commercial." It clearly worked, as he eventually got the part. But then, years later, Drake threatened to leave "Degrassi." Here's why.

Drake didn't want his rapper friends to call him 'soft'

The cast and co-creators of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" recently sat down with AV Club to discuss some behind-the-scenes moments from the series. And, as told by former writer James Hurst, Drake threatened not to return for Season 6. "There was a letter from a law firm in Toronto," Hurts said. "It was an odd letter that said, 'Aubrey Graham [Drake] will not return to 'Degrassi' season six as Jimmy Brooks unless his injury is healed, and he's out of the wheelchair." 

Then, Hurst asked what was wrong with the wheelchair. "He's like, 'All my friends in the rap game say I'm soft because I'm in a wheelchair,'" the TV writer recalled. "And I said, 'Well, tell your friends in the rap game that you got shot. How much harder can you get? You got shot, and you're in a wheelchair.'" That was enough for Drake to back down. 

For Hurst, Drake's character was important, as it may have helped kids in similar situations. "I need you to represent this person," he continued. "You're the coolest kid on the show, and you can say there's nothing wrong with being in a wheelchair." Though he decided to stay at the time, Drake eventually left "Degrassi" in 2009, as his music career became his main priority. "Eventually, they realized I was juggling two professions and told me I had to choose," the rapper told W Magazine (via MTV News). "I chose this life."