Rose helps kids bloom

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

Black Enterprise magazine recently did a piece on the community's top philanthropists, with a list of the top-15 individual donors to charity.

The esteemed lineup includes a couple of non-surprises, TV personality Oprah Winfrey (who donated a stunning $153 million US to various causes between 2002-04), and Black Entertainment Television founder and Charlotte Bobcats owner Robert L. Johnson, who contributed $3 million to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

One athlete made the list and it wasn't Shaquille O'Neal, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan.

It's a guy who actually makes his living in Canada, the Raptors' own Jalen Rose, who donated well over $250,000 in one year (2003) to a number of charities including one that is particularly close to his heart, the Detroit College Scholarships.

Each year, Rose, a Detroit native, helps put five local kids through college or university by donating a $10,000 scholarship to each. Currently, Rose has 15 of his kids, as he calls them, attending post-secondary school on his dime.

And he couldn't be more thrilled.

"The thing about my charity work," he said yesterday following practice, "is not the giving, but the actual watching the root from the tree grow.

"I'd like to look back in 10 years and see one of the recipients working at IBM or one is a surgeon or an athlete. That's what it's all about," he said.

Rose doesn't just write a cheque and walk away. The graduate of Detroit's Southwestern High keeps on top of how his kids are progressing, making sure they're attending all their classes and the like.

"I'll call and check on them and leave a message on their voice mail," he said. "I feel they're my responsibility."

Of the 15 kids he's putting through college, Rose insists that he hasn't had a problem with any of them.

"All of the kids have been great," he said. "It all has been positive. They take great pride in being Jalen Rose Scholarship recipients."

Rose has a number of other charitable projects, including an endowment fund at his alma mater, the University of Michigan; a program where he donates $50 for each assist he picks up during the season; Charity Weekends during the off-season; as well a number of children's causes in Chicago, Toronto and Detroit.

Although he is the biological son of a former NBAer (Jimmy Walker), Rose never knew his father and was raised in very modest surroundings by his mom Jeannie and grandmother Mary Hicks. He credits those two strong women with instilling him with a sense of community and responsibility.

"It comes from a lot of things, first from up above, the Lord, because I do understand that I'm blessed. But also it comes from my upbringing, my mother, my grandmother. And it comes from being from a humble situation," he said. "When you understand what it's like not to have, and you're put in a position where you become (a have), I feel like it's my responsibility as a person, not just as an athlete.

"That's one of the big misconceptions," he said. "You don't have to be rich and famous to be a role model. You can always help others.

"I tell kids that it's all about karma. You want to be the kind of kid who opens the door for an elderly person, to help somebody across the street. You say please, you say thank you. And with that karma, hopefully comes the rewards that allow yourself to be blessed. Because I feel a lot of people block their blessings. I think everything you do in life is a cause and effect.

"At the end of the day, I don't do it because I'm Jalen and I have X amount of money," Rose said. "I do it because I care."


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