Derrick Rose: A Friend, A Mentor and My Big Brother

Apr 7, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) looks on during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 7, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose (1) looks on during the second half against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the first things you are taught in Journalism 101 at any university is that “the story is never about the writer”.

In addition, you’re taught how keep your personal feelings aside and to never be biased and remain objective at all times. You also learned that when you’re writing to not use “I” and “me” because you are putting yourself in the story.

Yesterday, when Derrick Rose was traded to the New York Knicks, “I” tried to do what I’ve learned from various professors and even fellow journalists.

However, I failed at doing so.


Because Derrick Rose wasn’t just a player that I covered for a specific media outlet, nor was he my favorite player. I never dreamed to be like him.

He was a little more to me than maybe what most people knew.

I saw him as a friend, a mentor and even considered him my big brother.

So for this piece, I’ll take off my media credential off my lanyard and speak from that perspective.


Derrick Rose took me under his wing in 2014 and at the time, he didn’t even know it. I was working out of Minneapolis and wanted to be closer to home in Chicago and cover NBA games. I asked Derrick in 2014 if he and my cousin could work things out for me to make this happen. They didn’t have to do this but they did.

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In mid-December, I would become a credential media member here in Chicago. To be honest though, I never grew up a Bulls fan. To be here in Chicago — the city I was born in and now call home — was definitely an honor.

I would follow Derrick around this country, city-to-city, asking questions and engaging his fan base.

When the Bulls would win, I would congratulate Derrick and when they lost, I would always give him words of encouragement.

We had a nice bond going on and I remember telling him I was going to New York for All-Star weekend. He would always ask me about different players I was following and I would always tell him about the college players that I saw coming up.

The Bulls were having a trying time and the break was needed.


The second half of the season was underway and then it happened. Derrick Rose tore his meniscus again.

I was very sad and to be honest, I cried.

I had wrote Derrick this letter about doing these projects I wanted to do with him, but with him being injured, he couldn’t do them and it was more important to focus on getting back on the court.

When Derrick went down, I was very concerned about our future. At this point, I was only covering games in Chicago because of him and if he was out, what would happen to me?

Also, more importantly, I wondered what would happen to Derrick.

But thankfully, he bounced back.

He did a presser not too long after that and was asked about his confidence. He would always refer back to his confidence in himself and the confidence his teammates had in him.

Most importantly, Derrick would always revert back to his faith.

Derrick is a real spiritual person.

Weeks would go by and then it happened.

Derrick shot around prior to the game, though he wasn’t back just yet to play. I would stand court-side filming him practicing and he would then walk towards the tunnel. I would stand there and show him love and say, “What’s good, D? How you feeling?”

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He would always say he’s tired or he’s out of breath, but he’s getting there and would jokingly call himself old. I would always laugh and say, “Derrick, if you’re old, then we’re old together because I’m only one year and one month younger than you.”

He would laugh and give me a hug despite being drenched in sweat.

I didn’t care.

My brother was getting back to doing something he loves and that’s playing the game of basketball.

Derrick would eventually return and the Bulls would play the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs not too long after that. Because of my connection with Derrick, I got the chance to cover my first NBA playoff game. Things went well in Milwaukee, but astray against Cleveland.

I remember when the Bulls were eliminated in Game 6, I caught up with Derrick after the game. I gave him dap and a hug and told him to keep his head up.

As expected he would reply, “Always, bro. Always.”

Sometimes during the season, I would meet Derrick in the hallway and one of the security guards would prevent me from being there. Derrick would always say, “Oh, nah nah. He good, he good. That’s fam.”

It was those things that made me grow fond of Derrick. He took me under his wing.


Summer would fly by and the start of a new season was on the horizon.

The Bulls looked to make another push under a new head coach. Things started off well, despite Derrick being knocked in the eye and having to wear a mask. Derrick went out there and played his heart out, though he could only see out of one eye.

In a “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league”, people didn’t realize that he was a one-eyed basketball player. They could only see how terrible his shooting was, which I guess that’s fair.

That’s the name of the game.

I remember after a game one time, after hearing him talk about the struggle with his vision, he just look tired and it made me sad.

I would then meet Derrick in our spot in the hallway and give him words of encouragement.

I always looked like I was going to cry and he would always say “Nah man, I’m good. I’m good.”


Things would then get better for Derrick as his vision came back, but then his body slowly started to wear him down.

I recall a time in Milwaukee when he left the game and didn’t return back in the second half. I went to the locker room and he just sounded so sad.

However, he always told the media that he wasn’t concerned or that he was trying to be smart.

Again I cried as Derrick spoke the media.

He saw me as I tried to turn my head, hoping no one else noticed. I cried because I know how much Derrick loves this game and it’s sad that bad things kept happening to him.

Despite the struggles, he would never want anybody’s pity.

After that interview, he walked up to me and asked if I was good.

I told him that I was good if he was good and he told me, “We good then.”


The season never got on track and all I can do now is reflect on fun moments.

I remember dabbing with him and telling him he should dab one day.

He then told me “Nah, nah, hell nah.”

One of my favorite things about Derrick was how he always cursed no matter if it’s publicly to the media or just in conversation.

I would joke with Derrick about my D-Rose 6 shoes that he told me he would give me.

“Aww, man I forgot. I got you though. What size you wear again?”

I would give him a little smirk and say the same size you wear and we would laugh.

I remember telling him that as a journalist that I can’t have a favorite basketball player, but I do.

I told him who he was and how I was close with that player’s younger brother.

Sometimes, I would purposely call Derrick his name just to be funny. Derrick would always take the time and talk about his game and how he overcame so much to enlighten young college players I knew that were facing the same types of adversities.


My proudest moment was when Derrick returned to Memphis for the first time in a very long time. This was special to me because I’m originally from the Memphis area. My mother’s birthday was coming that weekend and I asked Derrick for her birthday if he could give the family tickets to his game and meet them.

He did it and despite losing, he met with my mother and wished her a happy birthday.

That’s the type of guy Derrick is.

His heart is so big and he would do anything to help someone or make them smile.

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The season would end and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

I regret that now.

Derrick was misunderstood, but I understood him.

He was just a kid from the South Side of Chicago that loves playing basketball and that’s all he ever wanted to do.

The money and fame he didn’t care for.

Because of Derrick, I gained a following and became known for my work. My career is bright and full of big opportunities and working with Derrick is the reason why. He always took the time out win or lose to talk to me about whatever. He had a great sense of humor and I enjoyed every funny thing he would say.

It’s the little things.

Derrick was more than just a basketball player to me.

More than just a person to get quotes from.

He was a mentor, a friend and my big brother.

I’ll finish things up here in Chicago and will see Derrick again soon.

At the Garden.

The Rose Garden.