Dennis Rodman Credits a Pickup Truck and Pearl Jam for Saving His Life

Chicago Bulls great Dennis Rodman is among the most colorful and eccentric personalities in sports history.

It isn’t close on that front, either. Rodman showed up with dyed hair and piercings, wore women’s clothing, and won five championships in a long NBA career.

Rodman embraced those parts of himself and what made him unique, but only after a night that he says served as his lowest point.

A pickup truck and Pearl Jam saved Dennis Rodman’s life

NBA legend Dennis Rodman in 2016.
NBA legend Dennis Rodman. | Robert Laberge/Getty Images

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Dennis Rodman smiled outwardly, but on the inside, he was a man with plenty on his mind.

In his 1996 book, Bad As I Wanna Be, Rodman recalled driving to The Palace of Auburn Hills, the Pistons’ then-home, in April 1993. At the time, Rodman was approaching the end of his time with the Pistons, the team that drafted him and won two championships with Rodman at forward. 

Rodman wrote about listening to Pearl Jam in his pickup truck and contemplating death by suicide. Rodman added that he felt he had “nothing but an empty soul.”

“I sat in that pickup and had a duel with myself. I didn’t need the gun; it all took place in my mind. I walked one way and I walked the other way. At ten paces I turned and shot the impostor. I killed the Dennis Rodman that had tried to conform to what everybody wanted him to be.”

The Pistons traded Rodman to the San Antonio Spurs in October 1993, and his arrival in Texas meant the All-Star forward would start living life how he wanted.

Rodman embraced his eccentric personality after that night

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There had never been a sports figure like Dennis Rodman, and there may never be one again.

Rodman did what he wanted when he wanted. He spoke openly about his sexual relationship with Madonna and hung out in gay bars. Rodman had all sorts of piercings and tattoos.

Rodman wrote in Bad As I Wanna Be how that fateful night in April 1993 changed his approach to life.

“What I did that night in The Palace parking lot–the choice I made and the way I made it–allowed me to break out and become the person I am today. I made the decision that night: Follow your own brain. Because of that night the Dennis Rodman you see now is a prototype, THE ONE YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN SEEING ALL ALONG.”

Thankfully for cameras around the world, Dennis Rodman has retained his eccentric and flamboyant personality. There still is never a dull moment when Rodman is involved.

Dennis Rodman has created an incredible legacy

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An entire generation of basketball fans who had never seen Dennis Rodman play knew all about him before ESPN’s The Last Dance.

On the court, Rodman served as one of the greatest defensive enforcers of his time. He entered the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, only months after the Pistons retired his No. 10 jersey. 

But more than anything, Rodman has remained in the news for being himself. Rodman even formed a close bond with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator.

It has been quite the life for someone who worked as an overnight janitor before he entered the NBA; that much is for sure.  

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