Rose on statement: Made my point

ByNick Friedell ESPN logo
Monday, December 8, 2014

CHICAGO -- For the first time since wearing"I can't breathe" shirt in support of Eric Garner before Saturday's game against the Golden State Warriors, Bulls star Derrick Rose explained his decision after Monday's practice.

"I'm just happy that people paid attention to it," Rose said. "I think it touched a lot of people because I grew up in an impoverished area like that, and sometimes [situations like that] happen a lot of times. It just touched a lot of people, and I just wanted to make sure that I got my point across."

Rose, who did not address the media after Saturday's game because he was frustrated with the Bulls' loss, spoke for close to 15 minutes and was very open about his decision to wear the shirt. He said he got the shirt made, and it was delivered to him before the game by his best friend, Randall Hampton.

Having grown up in Englewood, a crime-ravaged neighborhood in Chicago, Rose felt a personal connection to try to get his message out.

"I grew up in it," Rose said. "I saw it every day. Not killing or anything, but I saw the violence every day and just seeing what can happen. If anything, I'm just trying to change the thoughts of the kids' minds across the nation, but it starts here."

Rose has been outspoken about his desire to try to reduce crime in Chicago over the years, but this was one of his biggest social statements to date. Before the season began, he donated $1 million to After School Matters, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that helps teenagers.

"I wouldn't say I'm going to do it every time, it's just something that I just felt," Rose said of making such a public statement. "Usually I stay out of politics and police brutality. I'm not saying all cops are bad or anything, I'm just saying what happened them days is uncalled for, and I think that hurt a lot of people. It hurt the nation.

"But my biggest concern is the kids. I know what they're thinking right now. I was one of them kids. When you live in an area like that and you don't got any hope, and police are treating you any way. I'm not saying all police [officers] are treating kids bad, but when you live in an area like that, it gives you another reason to be bad. My biggest concern are the kids and making sure that my son grows up in a safe environment."

Rose acknowledged that one of the reasons he decided to wear the shirt was because of his son, P.J., who turned 2 in October.

"That's one of the reasons why I wore the shirt," he said. "I'm a parent now. Probably two years ago, it probably would have been different. I probably would not have worn the shirt. But now I'm a dad, it just changed my outlook on life, period. I don't want my son growing up being scared of the police or even having that thought on his mind that something like that could happen.

"I have a cousin. That easily could have been him, or it easily could have been one of our relatives. It's sad that people lost their lives over that."

Rose's decision was well-received throughout NBA circles and caused national headlines. Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James backed Rose's decision and said Sunday he was looking for a shirt of his own to wear.

"It means a lot just from the NBA, period," Rose said. "Especially for someone like him to have something to say about it or do something afterwards. He's a huge figure, and he grew up in a neighborhood like that. It means a lot for a star like that to come out and say something, especially a megastar. So I'm happy about that."

Several of Rose's teammates and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau stood behind the soft-spoken star's decision.

"I think he has something to say," Thibodeau said. "I think it's a great message. It's about equality and justice for everybody. I think you guys know the type of person Derrick is."

Rose said his initial reaction to the Garner video was confusion.

"At first I was confused," he said. "I wouldn't say angry right away. It was unbelievable. It was hard to process it at first. But if anything like this happened again you just hope that they get the right verdict next time."

The 26-year-old Rose is hopeful that everybody could learn from this situation in the future and that his T-shirt can be the start of some more conversations.

"I have friends that are police officers -- good friends. I have family members that are police officers. I'm not saying every officer is bad. ... I felt like patience would have took care of both of those situations if they would have waited a little bit longer or had the patience to ask questions or something," Rose said. "But it happened, and the only thing we can do is learn from it and teach our kids, and that's about it."

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