Rose held firm by his Chicago roots
For all the respect and riches that Derrick Rose has received since being named last NBA season’s MVP – and the $95 million contract extension he recently signed qualifies as the latter – the Chicago Bulls point guard has found one drawback to winning the award.
“The worst part is the attention,” Rose said. “I hate attention like that.”
Rose has accepted his fame, and he’s worked the past two seasons to show more of his personality to the public. But, unlike his outgoing mother and three older brothers, Rose prefers to be quiet. The only time he seems comfortable opening up is around his family and long-time friends. As he became a star at Chicago’s Simeon High School, his family kept the media at bay and limited the contact college recruiters had with him.
“I think it comes from his background with his mom, brothers, coaches who taught him growing up to never change,” said Randall Hampton, Rose’s childhood friend. “He’s never been able to snap on anybody. He’s always been a down-to-earth guy.”
Rose was raised in the tough Englewood neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago. He has always used his upbringing as motivation, and doesn’t plan to stop after getting his lucrative new contract.
“Knowing that nobody ever in my neighborhood ever saw that kind of money and knowing the background that I came from, the struggles that I went through, it’s just going to make me work harder,” Rose said. “That’s the only thing that I thought about: I’m never satisfied. No matter how much money I have or whatever, I will never be satisfied as a player.”
Rose still lives in the same suburban townhouse he bought as a rookie, not a lakeside high-rise condo. He did allow himself one extravagant purchase after signing his contract extension: a Bentley coup. He typically drives his Ford F-450 truck, which is useful in Chicago’s harsh winters.
“He’s a mega superstar and he’s forced into the light because of how good he is,” Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said. “He doesn’t want to talk in front of people. He’s not going to talk to people he doesn’t know. He’s not comfortable with it, but he’s trying to get better at it.”
Rose was excited to see some of his old childhood friends when he went back to Englewood to attend a birthday party during his rookie year with the Bulls. He was long known as “Pooh” – a childhood nickname given by his grandmother because he was pudgy like the cartoon character Winnie the Pooh – but everyone called him “D-Rose” once he returned. Feeling uncomfortable about being viewed as a celebrity in his old neighborhood, Rose hasn’t hung out there since.
“Almost the whole neighborhood came out there just to see me, to show love to me,” Rose said. “I just wasn’t used to it where you grow up with the people all your life and now they’re looking at you different because of who you are, because you play basketball. That is something that I will never get used to.”
While Rose can often walk around without being recognized in Santa Monica, Calif., where he keeps a home for when he trains in the offseason, the attention he receives in Chicago can be overwhelming. When he does go out in public, he usually wears hats and glasses. His preference is to stay home with his friends playing video games or watching movies.
“I’m from a neighborhood where people stand on the corner all day. You do your homework and go outside,” Rose said. “In the neighborhood, my mom just knew I was safe.
“I can’t even go outside to eat at places without having a hood on or walking with my head down. I’m not used to that. It’s weird, but hopefully it’s something I can get through.”
Despite being uncomfortable with his celebrity, Rose never considered waiting to test the free-agent market. He wants to stay in his hometown.
“That would have been even worse,” Rose said. “Seeing what other people went through and seeing how much publicity they get even thinking about going to another team, I wouldn’t even think about it.”
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