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Success Never Changed Him, Jalen Rose Stays Close to His Roots

Jalen Rose

Early Life

To say that Jalen Rose has become a star in everything that he does would be putting it mildly. He has been so successful on and off the court that he has become wildly known and respected in all circles. But it hasn’t always been easy for the superstar.

Rose was a sensational athlete in the late 1980’s and had several opportunities in front of him. With a top school near his home, Rose had the chance to go there, but his mother feared this because of the neighborhood’s happenings. The introduction of cocaine and other drugs to many neighborhoods was especially worrying for her as the drugs became more common.

Outside of the neighborhood’s circumstances, Rose was unfortunately never close with his father. His dad, Jimmy Walker, was a number-one pick in 1967. With Walker passing in the late 2000’s, Jalen never had a chance to meet him.

Rose was out to set himself apart from his father. Admittedly out of spite, Jalen wanted his father to know him. He wanted him to know his name. His father wore the number 24, so when Jalen got to high school, he chose the number 42.

He truly wanted to make himself a success story. Playing basketball all day, training, always watching and taking in the game. Just going down the sidewalk, he was always dribbling a basketball. Even during the winter, he was always looking to get better. So much so, multiple times a week Jalen would get down on his knees and pray to make it into the NBA.

High School Career and Time at Michigan

University of Michigan

Rose and his mother, a former track star, decided he would play high school basketball at Southwestern High School in Detroit, where he became a star. Rose became the sixth-ranked player in the country. He would play with future NBA players Voshon Lenard and Howard Eisley (now an assistant coach at Michigan).

Upon entering his Freshman year, Rose chose the University of Michigan. With his incoming class, many have known them since as the “Fab Five”. The Fab Five revolutionized the sport of basketball on the court by wearing baggy shorts, black socks, and black shoes. They would go on to reach both the 1992 and 1993 NCAA Men’s Division I Championship games finishing as national runners-up. His class became legendary, and that is something that still holds true today. They are the only team in Final Four history to start five freshmen.

Rose led the Wolverines in scoring during his freshman season and went on to set the school record in points as a freshman. He went on to play another two seasons at Michigan before being drafted 13th overall in the 1994 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets.

His Time in the NBA

Jalen went on to put together an impressive 13-year career in the NBA, where he played for six different teams.

After his first two years with Denver, Rose was traded to the Indiana Pacers, where he went on to thrive when all-time great Larry Bird became head coach. He helped Indiana make three consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearances. The Pacers made the NBA Finals in 2000 in which Rose played a vital role.

He would also play for the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, and Toronto Raptors. Rose retired in 2007 after putting together career averages of 14.3 points per game, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Always Looking to Give Back

Many will lose sight of their community when they make it to a big stage, but Not Jalen Rose. In 2000, the Detroit native founded the Jalen Rose Foundation. One of the reasons is his pride in being from Detroit. Rose talked about how much it hurt him to see so many schools closing during that time. He took it personally. His goal was to help influence the community in a positive way.

 Money has never changed him. Upon opening the Jalen Rose Foundation, he has helped many kids receive scholarships. Not only that, but he has also always stayed in constant contact with those individuals. Seeing these individuals thrive and earn a degree is something that he has always taken a lot of pride in.

When he was with the Toronto Raptors in 2004, Jalen gave back to the University of Michigan to endow a scholarship for an incoming freshman. The scholarship was based on merit and financial need. The scholarship covered the cost of in-state tuition and support for additional expenses. His appreciation for the University has been second to none in giving him a path to success, and he aimed to do the same for others.

That is something where many might have decided they had done enough to help give back to their community, but many are not Jalen Rose.

The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy

In 2011, the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy began its first academic year in September. The Academy, put together by Rose and business partner Michael Carter, is an open enrollment, public charter high school on the northwest side of Detroit. It currently serves over 400 scholars between 9th and 12th grade from metro-Detroit.

They help provide a leadership-focused education that inspires the youth to achieve a college degree someday. Their goal is to help build leaders for the future. They are provided with extensive college exposures, tours, and dual-enrollment opportunities, but students are also required to pass at least one Advancement Placement course to help with the transition to college.

Rose helped build the Academy because it could become a true game changer for urban youth. The Academy has graduated more than 90% of their students and has sent more than 90% to college, technical school, or the military. Jalen saw a vision of giving kids a true chance and giving them the opportunity to help the people they love. Jalen is the founder of the Academy and serves as the President of the Board of Directors.

To ensure the Academy can thrive, fundraising has become a key component of funding the schools’ financial needs. He helped develop the Jalen Rose Academy Celebrity Golf Classic and an annual auction to raise money for facility improvements and provide the school with the appropriate accommodations.

Jalen Rose has always believed not only in giving back but also giving individuals opportunities so that everyone can thrive to make the world a better place.


As recent as last year, the Detroit native appeared in a new social and digital campaign for the Grand Wagoneer. The six-week campaign titled “Where I’m From,” featured Rose paying tribute to the streets of Detroit and the neighborhood that played a special part in his life. The campaign helps celebrate people from cities across the nation who are making an impact. It brought attention to encourage audiences to share stories of the pride they have for their city through the hashtag #WhereImFrom.

During the campaign, Jalen made it clear to the audience that where someone comes from will not define where they’re going to go. Not only that, but it helps provide the foundation that will get someone where they want to go. Part of the reason that Rose partnered with Jeep and Grand Wagoneer is because he has seen their time, energy, money and resources that help young people from Detroit.

This March, Rose partnered with STARRY, a new lemon-lime soda from Pepsi. With STARRY at the University of Utah’s Black Culture Center during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend. The event produced a $50,000 donation in support of the center’s program, Operation S.U.C.C.E.S.S. The program focuses on leadership development for students that are looking to address issues in the Black community. It also provides a chance to gain work experience for them.

Jalen’s goal was to expand his work with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. He is always encouraging other professional athletes to keep devoting time to the communities that they came from. Successful as a player in the media and his other ventures, those endeavors continue to grow for Rose. And he is just fine with that if the cause can elevate individuals’ lives.

Jalen Rose takes pride in where he’s from. He takes pride in the people and places that have helped shape who he is today. You won’t find many like that in this day and age. Jalen Rose is always giving back and never losing sight of who he is and where he came from.

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