Derrick Rose's otherworldly athletic talents were identified from an early age. From there, his family, led by his eldest brother Reggie, made it their mission to do whatever it took to give Derrick the best chance to reach his vast potential. I'd say they did a pretty good job.
Even making it out of the Roses' native Englewood neighborhood on Chicago's South Side is no small feat, same goes for navigating the treacherous waters of CPS basketball. It doesn't take a murder map or a Ben Wilson parable to see all of the things that could have sidetracked our future MVP, and the family deserves praise for their substantial role in the process. Derrick didn't escape Chicago totally unscathed, though: he was the focal point of an academic fraud scandal that caused Memphis to vacate its entire 2007–08 season.
There was also a more tangible effect of Rose's highly sheltered upbringing. While the Bulls' star has become increasingly more comfortable with public speaking, he's still the sort of person that causes one to Google antonyms for "outspoken". Derrick Rose is reserved and introverted. After reading Will Leitch's wonderful GQ profile, he also comes off a bit distrustful.
This is why it registered as a shock to see Rose tackle the Chicago teachers strike via Twitter for the second time this week on Tuesday. For a player who has never done anything remotely controversial, this counts as a renegade act.
I'm sitting here just thinking how sad it is that my city got to go through this. I love my city and everyone in it even my haters!— Derrick Rose (@drose) September 12, 2012
I don't like that fact that OUR kids are not in school and that's the only thing we have to SAVE these kids.— Derrick Rose (@drose) September 12, 2012
I pray everyday for US for real. I know I shouldn't be saying this because I hoop and it's not my lane but I feel like ppl should hear this.— Derrick Rose (@drose) September 12, 2012
Chi town til I die!— Derrick Rose (@drose) September 12, 2012
The strike reached its third day on Wednesday, with teachers and the city vying over student test scores and principal power more than pensions or salaries. It's a complicated issue many feel passionate about, with political ideologies smothering each side. You'll notice Rose did a pretty fine job of walking the line without necessary backing either labor or management: Rose is, of course, only concerned about the well-being of CPS students. He was in their shoes only a few short years ago.
The message seems genuine enough to make me wonder if Rose wrote the tweets himself, alone in his Trump Tower condo, hacking away on his iPhone while overlooking the city he rules. It seems obvious that most of Rose's social media endeavors are ghost-written. Whether Derrick punched the keys himself or not is probably irrelevant: it's a strong, authentic message from Bulls star that clearly comes from the heart.
Perhaps most encouraging of all is that, unlike his last tweet on the strike, Rose and his handlers decided not to use his #thereturn hashtag as a way of pushing his endorsement agenda into an issue that doesn't need it.
It's all part of the process in the maturation of Derrick Rose. Much like the Miami Heat's LeBron-led tribute to Trayvon Martin earlier this season, it's a welcomed sight when athletes approach polarizing social issues. It's hard to see Rose making a public statement if this strike would have occurred three years ago. As a local celebrity arguably on par with Oprah and all the rest, these things will start to become a civic duty for Rose. If this is the first issue he takes on, at least it comes from a personal place.