There was never a player like Dennis Rodman before he entered the NBA, and there hasn’t been one like him since he hung up his sneakers for good. The forward was flamboyant, brash, out of control, and most of all, candid with his opinions, struggles, and personal story.
Rodman continues to find his way into the spotlight nearly 20 years out of the NBA. In a recent interview with ESPN, he revealed his biggest struggle since retiring from basketball.
Dennis Rodman’s struggles
Rodman was bound to stick out from the crowd. His hair will likely be a different color every time you see him — his signature during his playing days. Although he was never the star of a team, he made a Hall-of-Fame career for himself with his relentless pursuit of rebound and his in-your-face defense, which stifled and frustrated even the league’s most even-keeled players.
When Rodman joined the Chicago Bulls for their second three-peat in the ’90s, these quirks were heightened under the spotlight that came with playing next to the most famous athlete of all time. This meant the dark side of his personality came out, too, as he often got violent with referees, players, and cameramen. After his Bulls career, his larger-than-life presence proved a distraction for the NBA, and he was forced to retire.
Since then, Rodman often makes headlines for the wrong reasons. From befriending infamous dictators to a public bout with alcoholism, Rodman has always been an open book. Even his Hall of Fame speech was filled with candid quotes about his perceived weaknesses and what he would do better, specifically when it came to fatherhood. He recently reflected on this struggle off the court.
Rodman’s biggest ‘demon’
Rodman didn’t have a relationship with his father growing up. However, this changed as he pulled up to the Chicago practice facility in 1997. Rodman recalled his experience of meeting his father in his ESPN interview.
“This black guy runs up to my truck and says, ‘I need to talk to you. I need to talk to you,'” Rodman remembered. “I said, ‘Dude, I’m late for practice.’ And he said, ‘I just want to let you know that I’m your father.'”
Rodman claims his father had 16 wives and 29 kids. After not having a father for 37 years of his life, the NBA player was fine not having one now. When it came to his own kids, however, Rodman has begun to notice a similarity between himself and the man who wasn’t there for him. Rodman said he lied to himself a lot about how he was as a father, but he knows deep down he wasn’t there for his kids.
“I think the only major demon I have right now is trying to convince myself that I am a good dad,” Rodman said. “… It’s very hard for me to break out of that cycle, you know. You feel like it’s too late. It’s one of those things where I never had anyone ever want [to love me].”
Has Rodman improved as a father?
Rodman has three kids: Trinity, Alexis, and D.J. They are too young to remember his playing days. This is where he seems to have a disconnect with his children. He wants to impress them as a public figure, but what his children really want is for him to simply be a father. His inability to do so has driven a wedge between them.
“If I can sit there and ask, ‘Forget all my achievements. Forget all my awards. Forget all the money, forget all the fame, forget all the women, forget everything,” Rodman told ESPN. “Can I be [there] consistently?’ That’s the only thing I’m fighting with.”
Despite his struggles, however, Rodman’s daughter does not seem to hold the grudge he did. In a recent 30 for 30 documentary about Rodman’s life, ESPN says his daughter believes Rodman is a beautiful person. Sadly, his own doubts as a father seem to get the best of him to this day.