Today, the world knows Drake as one of the biggest stars in the world. From the "Replacement Girl" video way back when to the release of Certified Lover Boy, the Toronto native has managed to dominate the world of entertainment for more than a decade. Part of what makes the GRAMMY winner's rise to fame so amazing is that he is the star that no one saw coming.
Before meeting Jas Prince, Cortez Bryant and Lil' Wayne, Drake was better known as Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi: The Next Generation. For three seasons, Jimmy Brooks was portrayed as a humble basketball star who came from a wealthy family. However, things took a turn for the worse when fellow student Sean Cameron shot Brooks and left him unable to walk. As a result, Brooks maneuvered through the show in a wheelchair for its remaining seasons.
Drake was not initially on board with the decision to have his character spend the rest of his days in a wheelchair, so he threatened legal action. Former Degrassi writer James Hurst explained the previously untold story during an oral history of the show presented by The A.V. Club.
"There was a letter from a law firm in Toronto, and it was from Aubrey. It was an odd letter that said, 'Aubrey Graham will not return to Degrassi season six as Jimmy Brooks unless his injury is healed, and he's out of the wheelchair.' I said, 'Get him down here,'" Hurst explained.
"He came in and was like, 'What letter? I don't know about that.' And I said, 'All right, I understand. But how do you feel about the wheelchair?'"
Drake was working to build his brand beyond the show and his music career was taking off. However, fellow artists and fans would call him "soft" because of his character's condition.
"He's like, 'All my friends in the rap game say I'm soft because I'm in a wheelchair.' 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.' He was like, 'Yeah, yeah,'" Hurst added.
"He was so nice and apologetic about everything. He instantly backed down. I was very passionate about it, and I said, 'Aubrey, there's some kid somewhere in a wheelchair, who's completely ignored, who's never on television, never gets represented. I need you to represent this person. You're the coolest kid on the show, and you can say there's nothing wrong with being in a wheelchair."
Drake appeared in the show through its eighth season before leaving in 2009 to capitalize on the release of So Far Gone.