Unmodified photo courtesy of Keith Allison https://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/5487867808
Athletes aren’t defined by the skills they possess or the talent they were born with.
The ones who lace up their shoes to take on the field or court aren’t just the perfect envisionment of the ideal physical form. They aren’t just the determined faces of sports or multi-millionaires who retire in their 30s, and they aren’t just another resource in a winning fantasy league.
And usually, they aren’t people like Derrick Rose.
Raised in an apartment building of a poor region of Chicago, Illinois, Rose represented the embodiment of a true inner city kid. His mom, who raised him alone, served as his motivation to force his way into a position that allowed him to repay her for all the hardships that she went through. It worked, and soon he was the nation’s number one HS point guard. After his senior year he went to the University of Memphis and declared for the 2008 NBA Draft after his freshman year; he went as the first pick to the Chicago Bulls.
This is where our story actually starts.
Derrick Rose fulfilled his dream of a better life for his family, but he was relentless in pursuing greatness in basketball’s most prestigious league. The man caused utter bedlam in Chicago, securing the nicknames “Hometown Kid” and “Windy City Assassin” in the process. Rose later rose to the top of the world in 2011 by winning the “Most Valuable Player” (MVP) award a mere three years after he was drafted; this made him the youngest player in the league’s history to be the NBA’s best basketball player. Derrick Rose was just 22 at the time, and there seemed to be nothing in his way that could stop him from becoming an all-time legend for the sport that has given him so much.
Then the injuries happened.
On April 28, 2012, the hometown kid–the savior of Chicago basketball–sustained the worst injury imaginable for a basketball player while up 12 points with only 80 seconds left in a playoff game against the 76ers. Derrick Rose tore his ACL.
He ended up missing 99 games, well over the amount of games played in a season, which is 82, but it doesn’t end there. In November of 2013, only a year and a half after his ACL tear, he tore his meniscus in his right knee. It wasn’t the same knee as his ACL tear, but he still ended up missing a whopping 76 games. It was not over for the Windy City Assassin yet. On February 24, 2015, Derrick Rose tore his meniscus again in the same knee as the one two years ago.
These injuries left him a supposed shell of his former self. The once explosive, cunning and talented point guard who slashed through clueless defenders and hit clutch jumpshots over seven-foot tall men now can’t seem to drive his way to the basket with efficiency or score at the rate that he once did.
And then something brilliant happened.
On October 31, 2018, Derrick Rose, now 30 years old, scored a colossal 50 points against the Jazz; this was the most amount of points he had ever scored in his career. He followed this performance with multiple 20+ point games, causing nothing but tears of joy and moments of nostalgia for the biggest “What if?” story in the history of the NBA.
This is the definition of an athlete. The one who came back from the depths and regained his status as one of the most explosive guards in the league, even if it was only for one night. Derrick Rose represents buoyant hope in the sports community and the one who went through three severe (possibly career-ending) injuries and resurrected his basketball career. He is the tale of the hometown kid who rose again through the pain and suffering–
And never withered.