By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.
Derrick Rose became the youngest MVP in NBA history and a celebrated superstar for the Chicago Bulls. It was just about eight years ago that Rose was honored with this distinction, after leading the Chicago Bulls to the East’s No. 1 seed with a 62-20 record.
Rose’s gritty style on the court was forged by what he says was a childhood surrounded by gang violence and poverty in Englewood. His single-minded determination to save his family from a continued life of hardships led him to embrace a “win-at-all-costs” mentality on and off the court.
Now, Scott Diener’s documentary “Pooh: The Derrick Rose Story” gives a never before seen look at the meteoric rise of the young Chicago superstar that was suddenly derailed by devastating injuries and unrealistic expectations for a hometown hero. Rose’s story is one of survival – through violence, poverty and injury – the one-time heir to Michael Jordan’s iconic throne has never forgotten where he came from as he continues to search for his own inner peace.
The film covers Rose’s life—from his upbringing in Englewood—all the way to his 2018-19 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The documentary features interviews with Chicago media and members of the Bulls’ front office, who discuss Derrick’s mercurial tenure with the Bulls that included a Rookie of the Year, becoming the NBA’s youngest MVP, and a slew of injuries that left fans and members of the press flummoxed until the superstar was eventually traded to the New York Knicks.
It shows clips from a December 2018 basketball game, where the Timberwolves played the Bulls at the United Center and the reception that Rose received from Bulls’ fans, even though he was suited up for the opposing team.
Rose notes in the doc that he was determined to make good to help his family and ultimately his community out. He rose from playing basketball at Simeon Vocational High School (where he was the nation’s No. 1 high school point guard) to being drafted by the champion Chicago Bulls.
He was dominant in pick-up games at Murray Park (which locals nicknamed Murder Park) and showed great promise while playing at Simeon.
According to the documentary, his mother worked more than one job to feed the family. Rose explains that he never had a male figure while growing up and, at one time, there were 13 people living in his five-bedroom house. His brother Reggie noted that all the negatives about the community were literally at their doorstep. He had another brother who sold drugs and, according to family members, this was not going to be Rose’s fate. “Sports was his only way out.”
Rose overcame these odds, similar to many young Black men who make it big in professional sports all across the country. And while he can be viewed as one of the best basketball players in the NBA, he faced myriad challenges to reach that point. But in the end, I believe, he triumphs.
Stadium Films presents “Pooh: The Derrick Rose Story.” The documentary is available on-demand at WatchStadium.com/.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is the Entertainment Editor for the Chicago Crusader newspaper. She is also the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago.” For book info, [email protected].