Every NBA All-Star weekend brings a new set of storylines from around the league. With the 69th edition of the actual All-Star game itself happening Sunday in Chicago, it’s only fitting that stories about Derrick Rose start to circulate.
After all, “The Windy City” is his stomping grounds.
However, something more fitting took place last night at the Isadore and Sadie Dorin Forum at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Rose was able to tell his own story. And he was able to do it in his own words.
The 2011 NBA MVP joined a panel discussion in partnership with non-profit Everyone Has A Story (EHAS) to discuss normalizing the conversation around mental wellness titled “The Right Conversation”. In accomplishing that goal, Rose began to shed some light on his journey with mental wellness and its’ effects on his career.
When Rose spoke on the panel, he immediately became an open book. At first, it could have come off as shocking to some who are familiar with his career. Being the beloved athlete that he is, Rose is a relatively quiet figure, even with his celebrity.
That’s where J.D. DuBois comes in.
DuBois, the founder of EHAS, set the tone for the panel discussion before all of them graced the stage. In the green room, DuBois had a message for all of each panelist. He wanted them to know that their stories may be something a person in the audience needs to hear. In doing that, he also made sure to acknowledge that he knows sharing experiences are not always easy.
“It’s much bigger than us as individuals”, said DuBois.
“It’s important of us [though], especially as black men that come from a community where mental wellness isn’t something we talk about.”
With a clear blessing from DuBois, Rose shared in a major way.
He spoke about his humble upbringing, which consisted of unhealthy eating and trying to avoid trouble. When it came to speaking about being a lackluster student though, there was a shift in his demeanor. He spoke unapologetically about it because, in his mind, basketball was his ticket to changing his fortune.
“How can I care [about school] when my mom used to spray Raid around the bed to stop roaches from biting me?”, said Rose to the group in attendance.
“I’m going to school with like twenty-something roach bites. Like I’m not tryna’ hear nothing you saying. I’m not tryna’ do no work today or nothing because you don’t know what I’m going through. So I knew basketball was my way.”
During the hour-long discussion led by Dr. Corey Yeager, Rose continued to share his journey on a panel that featured DuBois, Christian Jones of the Detroit Lions and several others. He began to speak more in-depth on the hiccups in his career that is filled with many ups and downs. From the feelings of betrayal by the city of Chicago to how he felt the Cleveland Cavaliers “took a dump” on him (and that’s putting it nicely), Rose didn’t pull a punch, often asking if he was sharing too much.
While Rose spoke eloquently on the panel about his life and mental wellness, there was an impression that he had more to say to the crowd.
After the panel discussion ended, all of the panelists, including Rose, headed back to the green room.
That’s when the Rose peeled back another layer of who he is and what he is about.
Currently, the three-time NBA All-Star is playing some best basketball of his career as a member of the Detroit Pistons. When comparing his current run with Detroit to his previous stint, Rose credits his maturation as a man, but also a new understanding of the game in its’ totality as the difference.
“I would say I know who I am. Like when I was thrust in this league, I was 18, 19-years old and I was chasing greatness”, Rose told the Michigan Chronicle (MC).
“And around that time, I didn’t understand it was all propaganda. Don’t get me wrong, like I appreciate where I’m at and everything that I achieved while I’m in this profession, but I just got a greater view of what’s going on and understanding of just who I am as a man of what I represent.”
Rose didn’t stop there though.
While still speaking with the MC, he voiced his concerns about the effects that social media has on mental wellness. In his words, in order for people to find their calm place to be able to address it, people should “stay off their phone”.
“Like that’s one thing that’s distracting a lot of people right now is people actually being on their devices. They’re not understanding who they are, so they’re following people.”
Prior to the panel discussion, Rose held a book signing for his new book titled “I’ll Show You”. When asked what he wanted people to take away from it, he briefly paused to gather his words, then offered a statement of understanding your life purpose.
“You can always change”, said Rose.
“You can always have a better understanding of your journey and to be mindful of it. Also to always find a way to help others, no matter what it is. I mean, that’s life right? Helping others out. I feel like that’s life.”
Follow Kory Woods on Twitter at @koryewoods