One guy giving away a boatload of money
Former Bulls star puts his money where his mouth is and makes a dream come true for 3 ‘Rose Scholars’
Derrick Rose’s story has taken a positive turn — and not just on the court. The former No. 1 pick of the Bulls just handed three “Rose Scholars” a combined $230,000. The kids are dreaming big. K.C. Johnson’s story,
As the daughter of Cuban immigrants, Jenny Ortiz knows a little something about overcoming adversity to chase dreams. She’s the first in her family to graduate from high school and first to earn a college degree.
So when her son, Alberto, approached her in excited fashion about applying for a college scholarship through Derrick Rose’s newly launched Rose Scholars program, her motherly instincts flared.
“We didn’t want to lower the expectation because he was really dead set on it and thought it would be a huge honor,” Ortiz said. “But we knew there were only three national winners. We knew it was a far shot. We were kind of leery because his heart was so invested.”
What might’ve stereotypically seemed to complicate matters even further was this detail: “I can’t even play basketball,” Alberto said. “Like, at all.”
But Rose’s program, like much of his story, doesn’t fit into convention. The scholarships were designed to reward leaders, to recognize community service, to honor perseverance.
Applicants, according to the official entry page, needed to have “Motivation. Ambition. Drive. Creativity. Organization. Effort.” They were asked to submit a 600-word essay on a topic of their choosing and post on social media an example of their community leadership.
The academic requirements, while not easy, were not exclusionary — 3.0 grade-point average or higher and either a 1230 SAT or 21 ACT score.
“They cared about who I was as a person and not just who I was for four hours during a test,” Madison Carmouche-Soward said. “This made me feel more comfortable.”
Rose’s story is all about perseverance. Raised in Englewood with his two older brothers by a single mother who worked to make ends meet, his meteoric rise to NBA stardom with his hometown Bulls was balanced by a devastating run of four knee surgeries and, almost shockingly, brief unemployment in February.
Instead, Rose signed a minimum contract to play for Tom Thibodeau — his former Bulls coach — in Minnesota. And he captivated the league with a 50-point game this season, a testament to him embracing his reserve role. Now he’s vying to become the first player to win both MVP and Sixth Man of the Year.
The Rose Scholars program, which Rose’s longtime agent, B.J. Armstrong, and agency Wasserman assisted in creating, was born out of him finding peace with where he is in his life and career.
“It’s what I’m about,” Rose said. “If you’re trying to add to society, that’s where I feel you. I understand that. That’s why I wanted to branch off and do something like this. After I’m gone (from the NBA) or I’m older, I can really be hands-on with it. It also gives my kids something to look at and be proud of their Pops for.”
This isn’t Rose’s first foray into educational service. In September 2014, he donated $1 million to After School Matters, a Chicago-based charity that provides out-ofschool opportunities for teenagers.
“Coming from where I come from, you just try to help kids out,” he said. “I think these scholarships are a great start. You’re not only helping the individual out, but you’re helping the community out and you’re helping the family too. You never know that position that scholarship may put them in. It’s all about just looking out for and blessing the youth while I can.”
Gabriel Lee, of Phoenix, won the grand prize of $200,000. Carmouche-Soward, of Huntsville, Ala., earned a $20,000 scholarship. And Ortiz, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., won $10,000.
These are their stories.