To really know Derrick Rose is to know his story. Not just that he was Illinois Mr. Basketball in high school, or Rookie of the Year, or the youngest MVP in NBA history. His real story. You know, that he’s just a kid from the South Side of Chicago who made it out and realized his dreams.
Today, Derrick Rose is one of the world’s best-known basketball players, with kids wearing his jersey around the globe. But as much as he is an ambassador for the game, it’s the city emblazoned on the front of his jersey—Chicago—that drives him to this day.
Rose learned the game of basketball at Englewood’s Murray Park, where his three older brothers—Dwayne, Reggie and Allan—taught him everything they knew. As Reggie remembers it, his youngest brother’s education in hoops began at the age of four or five, when he’d rush the court after his older brothers finished playing just to bounce the ball around. By the time Derrick was in fifth grade, he was being recruited to play with seventh and eighth graders. And in seventh grade, he was dismissed from the local Small Fry league because he was half an inch too tall. But that wasn’t the full story.
One day during Derrick’s seventh grade year, his older brothers, who had been off living their own lives at this point, were all gathered at their mother’s home watching Small Fry game tape. Reggie remembers being bored out of his mind. That is, until something amazing happened. One of these pre-teen players took an alley-oop off the baseline and dunked it with two hands. As Reggie put it, this kid flushed the ball, “Almost like this is what I do.” When the brothers learned it was their younger brother who had dunked in the game, they initially didn’t believe it. Eventually, young Derrick confessed to the dunk—something most kids would have bragged about to anyone who would listen. It seems his extra half-inch might not have been his only advantage. (For the record, the height limit in Small Fry basketball is 5’1”.)
As amazing as it was, that dunk wasn’t what impressed Reggie most about his little brother’s game. It was a feeling.
“He knew how to win games without scoring at an early age,” says the elder Rose brother. “So that’s when I knew… he could be special.”
While only Derrick was there to experience it live, Powerade and Victory Journal—the site dedicated to chronicling the exploits of legends in all sports—commissioned artist David Rathman to animate the scene. Click play above to see the scene narrated by Reggie himself, and below to hear an exclusive extended cut of this never-before-heard interview.