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Rose blooms

Family helped Memphis' Derrick Rose become a star

Posted: Thursday April 3, 2008 11:39AM; Updated: Friday April 4, 2008 12:47AM
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Derrick Rose has flourished in his first season at Memphis and is projected to be a top pick in June's NBA draft.
Derrick Rose has flourished in his first season at Memphis and is projected to be a top pick in June's NBA draft.
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Reggie Rose was in Chicago on Wednesday, making arrangements for his mother and two of his brothers to get to San Antonio for the Final Four. He didn't know how many members of the Rose clan would get to San Antonio, but he was hopeful all of them would be there to see Derrick Rose, the youngest member of the family, lead Memphis against UCLA on Saturday.

"Everybody has jobs, and I'm not sure how many days they can get off," Reggie said. "I'm looking at flights, trying to work it all out. It's gonna be tough."

It would a shame if the entire family couldn't be there. There are few basketball milestones more significant than playing in the Final Four, and few families who deserve to bask in the moment more than the Roses.

Last year, when Derrick was still a senior at Simeon Career Academy, I wrote a lengthy story about the family's stewardship of his basketball career. His three older brothers, led by Reggie, formed a cocoon around Derrick that helped him avoid the pitfalls inherent to growing up a basketball prodigy in Chicago. They shielded him from agents and other speculators, kept college coaches at bay, and helped him navigate one of the worst neighborhoods on Chicago's South Side.

"Some people look at their family members as a dollar sign, and I know people will say that about us, but he is our brother, someone we love, and he is someone we want to protect whether he played basketball or not," Reggie said Wednesday.

Reggie moved to Memphis with Derrick last summer, transplanting his wife and two daughters. It's not that he didn't trust Memphis coach John Calipari and his staff, but he knew his shy brother would need more support.

"As Derrick was making the transition, there were days when he would just come to the house and raid everything in the fridge and play with his nieces and watch movies with them," Reggie said. "There were days when he just needed to be with family."

Reggie, 32, attended college, as did Dwayne, 35, and Allan, 27. When Derrick had a problem with a class or a question about his schoolwork, the three brothers were on-call tutors. "If something came up, one of our phones would ring," Reggie says.

Reggie also acted as a translator of sorts between Calipari and Derrick. Early in the season, as Derrick learned Memphis' offensive sets, he often sought out Reggie to put Calipari's directives in a language he could understand.

"For example, when [Calipari] wants Derrick to drive, he says, 'go up hill.' I coached Derrick growing up and I always used the term 'push.' [Calipari] is telling him 'go up hill' and he doesn't understand it, so he came to me. I told him he needed to stop practice right then and ask what it means because that is how he is going to learn."

As he did in Chicago, Reggie closely monitors Derrick's contact with the media. Some weeks, he told the Memphis sports information department that Derrick needed a break. On other occasions he made Derrick do an interview because he thought it would be a good learning experience.

"I told him that at the next level there are 82 games and after every one you are going to have do interviews or they are going to fine you," Reggie said.

During our interview in Chicago a year ago, Derrick was uncomfortable, giving mostly one-word answers. He could talk about basketball, but he seemed adverse to reflection of any kind. Watching him talk about his childhood in interviews last week in Houston, he seemed more assured.

"He's coming out of his shell I think," Reggie said.

It seems certain that in the months ahead the Rose clan will have more to celebrate. Derrick is projected to be among the first few picks of this summer's NBA draft, and he is likely to leave Memphis after his freshman season. Still, it would be a shame if Derrick's three older brothers and their mother, Brenda Rose, didn't get to gather in San Antonio and reflect on the fruits of their work.

"Everyone played their role as a family and has been there every step," Reggie said. "We are all ecstatic. We couldn't have drawn it up better than this."

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