Mother's Day is usually thought of as a joyful day, but for people who have lost their mother or mother figure, it can be a tough day to get through. NBA commentator and former player Jalen Rose dealt with that for the very first time on Sunday.
Rose lost his mother, Jeanne, to cancer in February. His co-hosts on "NBA Countdown" took a moment to honor Jeanne, and allowed Rose a few minutes on the air to reflect on her life and legacy. It's Rose's first Mother's Day without her or his grandmother, Mary Belle Hicks, and he was in tears as he discussed how hard it is for him and his family.
— ESPN (@espn) May 9, 2021
“This is the first time in my life that I didn’t have my mother or grandmother on Mother’s Day,” Rose said via Awful Announcing. “It’s been tough, for me and my family, but I’m gonna be strong. I got a lot of people who rely on me, a lot of people who love me, lot of people who believe in me.”
“We fell in love with basketball together. My father played in the league and to not know him… She was like, ‘You’re going to make it, you’re going to get us out the hood, I promise you.’ And I was like ‘I’m going to do it ma.’ And I did it. We did it.”
“I used to sign ‘Dr. J’ as my autograph when I was little, and people was laughing at me and was teasing me,” Rose said. “And she was like ‘You’re gonna make it. You is Dr. J. But you ain’t never better than Magic (Johnson).’ That’s how she motivated me. … I’m just happy that the name Jalen is going to carry our legacy, carry her legacy.”
Jeanne's legacy is not just her son, but her son's name
Rose was incredibly close with his mother. The legacy that she left goes farther than him, though. The name she gave her son, Jalen, essentially didn't exist when he was born in 1973. According to ESPN, there was only one known Jalen at that time. Jeanne combined the name of his father, James, and his uncle, Leonard, to get Jalen. Since Rose became a famous NBA player, the name has taken off in popularity.
ESPN released an article about Jeanne and the name Jalen on April 28, which would have been Jeanne's 80th birthday. She was proud of her son, but she was also proud of essentially inventing the name that has been given to thousands of children, both boys and girls, and has spawned numerous variations. When Rose was going through her things following her death, he discovered a handwritten list of Jalens in sports; his mother had kept track of all of them.
"I knew it was something that she realized had become bigger than her — and clearly way larger than me," Rose said to ESPN. "It's something now that really is gonna be what defines her legacy and mine. Something that has zero to do with the score of any game that I ever played."
According to ESPN, close to 80 Jalens played men's college basketball this past season. There are currently 32 Jalens (or some variation) playing a major professional sport in North America.
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