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Derrick Rose reportedly offers to help pay for funeral of slain 6-month-old Chicago girl

Dan Devine
Ball Don't Lie

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Derrick Rose stretches. (Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports)

A 6-month-old girl died after being shot five times in Chicago on Monday afternoon while her father was reportedly standing on the curb, changing her diaper on the front seat of a minivan. It was the 62nd homicide of 2013 in the city, according to RedEye Chicago; last year, more than 500 homicides were reported in Chicago, a horrifying number that represented a massive increase over 2011.

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The rate has slowed through the first 2 1/2 months of 2013, but the wretchedness of the death of infant Jonylah Watkins — whom police officials have said was shot during a gang-related attempt on the life of her father, Jonathan Watkins — has brought the city's struggles with gun violence back to the forefront. There's nothing "good" that comes of a story like this, but in between the awful feelings, there occasionally emerges something worth celebrating. Like the against-all-odds 17-hour effort to save a little girl's life, or 200 members of a community coming together in mourning and support, or, reportedly, a gesture of kindness offered by one of Chicago's brightest stars.

From Chicago ABC affiliate WLS-TV:

As police search for the killer of 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins, outrage over her death spreads, and the outpouring of grief includes a gesture by the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose.

Rose has offered to help pay for Jonylah's funeral expenses. Others have come forward to donate money to a reward fund to help find the killer. Tuesday night, that reward fund stood at $11,000.

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The report of Rose's offer comes from Pastor Corey Brooks, the leader of New Beginnings Church in Chicago, who's been serving as the Watkins family's spokesman in the aftermath of Jonylah's shooting. NBC Chicago cites the spokesman as the source, and The Inquisitr reported that "Brooks also said that the family won’t have to worry about funeral costs as Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose has offered to take care of the funeral costs."

Outside of Brooks' comments, nobody appears to have actually confirmed Rose's involvement or its exact nature — not Spencer Leak Sr. of Leak and Sons Funeral Home, who has said he is donating his services for the funeral, or Rose's representatives, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, or Rose's agent, who declined to discuss the matter with CBS radio in Chicago. That's not to say Rose is not involved — athletes often eschew the spotlight on such personal, delicate matters — but rather to note that information remains scarce. Rose himself, as is often the case, has offered no public comments on the matter.

This isn't the first time that Rose has been connected to this kind of charitable, compassionate act, nor the first time he's been largely unwilling to elaborate on his connection to it. As Bryan Crawford of NBC Chicago's Outside Shot blog notes, "Rose was also said to have paid for the funeral of slain rapper Lil’ Jo Jo, who was shot and killed while riding a bike last September." The 18-year-old rapper, whose name was Joseph Coleman, grew up in Englewood, the same neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago where Rose was raised.

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Rose referenced his Englewood roots, Chicago's ongoing struggles with inner-city violence and his emotional connection to the city and neighborhood in which he came up during a surprisingly stirring product launch back in September:

"It's truly a blessing. With all of the stuff that's going on in this city, a kid from Englewood has got something positive going on. That makes me feel so good. This shoe is great; all this is great. But I can't explain this. I can't. I went through so much. To have, like, true fans, that means a lot to me. And I know it means a lot to my family, because we're not supposed to be here — at all. But God made the way."

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has urged anyone with information that might help lead to the arrest of Jonylah Watkins' killer to call 312-747-8380.

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