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Derrick Rose is into his community as much as his NBA rehab.
Over the last several weeks, the homegrown Chicago Bulls star has demonstrated just as much, spending his summer playing in a grueling stretch of eight FIBA World Cup games over just two weeks as he embarks upon his return from two lost seasons due to knee injuries. Even during his busy schedule he made the time to donate $1 million out-of-his-own pocket to the kind of neighborhood after-school program that made his star-studded rise possible.
The youngest MVP in league history made it a point of making certain the After School Matters charity he is now partly funding has a residence at his Simeon Career Academy alma mater. Not far from the crime-ridden Englewood neighborhood where he was born and raised, the program prides itself on arranging and providing “out-of-school apprenticeships” for inner-city teens.
“He reached out,” said Matters vice chairman E. Robbie Robinson in announcing the gift at the charity’s annual gala earlier this week. “There was a conversation around what would be the best way to build a relationship. He and his family concluded this is what they wanted to do. When Derrick looks at the kids we work really hard to serve, he sees himself or saw himself as one of those kids.”
Rose has long spoken about having a responsibility for his hometown that extends far beyond the number of victories his Bulls might post in any given NBA season. Back in 2013, he covered the funeral expenses of Jonylah Watkins, a six-month-old girl shot and killed on the South Side during a brazen, broad-daylight shooting in which her father was also injured and over the years has participated in several citywide summits aimed at curbing spiraling gang violence.
In Rose’s mind, it’s about extending the kind of helping hand to others that was he was once afforded.
“To have a strong community of people who believe in your potential can make all the difference in the world,” the 25-year-old Bulls star said in a statement. “So many people have invested in me and I want to do the same for Chicago’s teens.”
Added Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, “as someone who has seen Derrick grow as a player and man, I couldn’t be more proud of his decision to support After School Matters in such an impactful way.”
The Bulls formally open training camp later this month. Karma is already on Derrick Rose’s side.
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