When Roses Grow in Michigan
This is how you give flowers to Detroit’s game-changing citizen, Jalen Rose
When you say “game-changer,” you’re saying that a player is responsible for setting trends that’ll last once they’ve retired. You’re saying that a player's fearlessness and confidence will carry them for their entire career. You’re saying that this player can represent a place (in this case, Detroit, Michigan) to the fullest by making a difference in their community.
For Jalen Rose, he has transcended beyond being a “basketball legend.” Rose has risen from his area to become a legend amongst his people, the people of Michigan, and the many he’s inspired along the way on national television.
Don’t get it twisted, Jalen Rose is definitely a game-changer. You’ve heard the “Fab Five” stories plenty of times, and I’ve watched ESPN’s 30 for 30 on them enough to know how polarizing those five young men were. Five Black Freshman, unapologetically themselves in a time when guys like Allen Iverson didn’t yet exist. In some ways, they helped to pave the road for future stars like Iverson to be themselves. For Jalen, specifically, growing up in a tough-nosed, blue-collar city like Detroit helped give him the perspective he has today. He is a walking tribute to his hard-working, late, great mother Jeanne Rose, and how the people who watched over him and his friends helped shaped him for what the world had to offer.
I myself grew up in the Midwest (in Milwaukee and Minneapolis) and I can say there is nothing like it. Almost everyone carries a chip on their shoulder — whether it’s from living in poverty or just from wanting to be the best person they can be so that they are able to provide their family with the things they watched their parents sometimes struggle to obtain. I always say there’s beauty in the struggle, especially when icons like Jalen Rose make it and become something greater than they might not have anticipated.
From being a reason why a lot of Black kids were named Jalen in the 90s and 00s, to being one of the biggest star attractions the NCAA has ever recruited, Jalen paved the way for the next generation to thrive and has continued to do so through his philanthropy in his post-playing days. Charitable organizations in his hometown of Detroit — including a school he built in 2011, that has given young people in need many life-changing opportunities that go far beyond athletics. His Leadership Academy serves over 400 9th-12th graders who have all gone on to graduate and receive scholarships at various colleges. Think about that.
Now an ABC/ESPN analyst with one of — if not the best — sports shows on television today, “Jalen & Jacoby,” Rose reminds us often about his roots which should make it more impressive and cool that he became successful by being himself and himself only. In today’s era of player empowerment, it’s important that we idolize and give thanks to the game-changers like Jalen who reminded us to stand for what we love and to look cool while doing it. I wasn’t around to see him play for the Michigan Wolverines or in his early NBA years, but I still respect what he has contributed to my age group.
Who would’ve thought that a kid from Detroit, with a silky left-handed game, would ball out for 12 highlight-filled years in the NBA. Four seasons in which he averaged 20 PPG, or more; a Most Improved Award in 2000; and a Finals appearance that saw him average 23.0 PPG on 46% shooting from the field in six games against the colossal Lakers. Jalen is undoubtedly an inspiration and a role model for many. Whenever you see those baggy shorts, black socks, and dope sneaker combos, remember that there might’ve never been any blossoming of basketball style and culture without the Michigan seeds that Jalen Rose and the rest of the “Fab Five” planted.