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’

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGO SPORTS - By K.C. John­son

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.

LACH­LAN CUN­NING­HAM/GETTY

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