When Jalen Rose was 17 and making one of the biggest decisions of his life — where to attend college — the inner city Detroit kid didn’t want to go to Duke because he didn’t see that as a place he fit in.
In ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on Rose and Michigan’s Fab Five, Rose was brutally honest about what he was thinking when he was recruited in 1990, saying he thought Duke only recruited players that were “Uncle Toms” and not guys like him.
But Grant Hill and others from Duke took offense, questioning how one should define both Duke and the black experience.
Today in the Wall Street Journal, Rose responded to his critics, saying everything was taken out of context, that who he was at 17 and who he is as an adult are different people.
Addressing the elephant in the room, comments from the documentary regarding Duke University were completely taken out of context. I respect the success of Duke’s program and stated this was my opinion as a teenager growing up in the inner city of Detroit. I also acknowledged that Grant Hill had something I wanted growing up – a successful family. It’s a bit disappointing some people insinuated I think black people from successful families are Uncle Toms. What made the documentary must-see TV is the fact we showed brutal honesty and addressed every topic head on and without reservation.
At the end of the day, some people will have their own opinions about the Fab Five and who we are as people. I am proud of what we achieved together from 1991-1993 and even more proud of the men we have become and how we all work in the community. For example, this past Friday, I had a groundbreaking ceremony with Dave Bing, the mayor of Detroit, for the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, my college prep charter school for inner city youth. I am proud to be one of the few athletes to open my own school. Legacies are defined by how people remember you when you are long gone. The Fab Five and the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy are two things I will now leave behind as my legacy.