NBA

Dennis Rodman Had to Wait Over 40 Years for an Unexpected and Heartbreaking Reunion With His Father

Even in 2021, people still want to take a photo or video with Chicago Bulls legend Dennis Rodman.

Rodman’s father, Philander, was one of them. Philander, who left Rodman when the future NBA star was only a child, spent years trying to reunite with his son.

The two eventually got their chance, but the brief meeting may not have gone how the younger Rodman would have hoped.

Dennis Rodman reunited with his father in 2012

NBA legend Dennis Rodman in 2016.
PNBA legend Dennis Rodman went over 40 years between seeing his father, Philander. | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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Dennis Rodman went 42 years without seeing his father, Philander Rodman.

In the summer of 2012, Dennis traveled to Manila, the capital of the Philippines, for an exhibition game. Rodman played on an NBA Alumni team with former Bulls stars Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen, among others.

During a pre-game press conference, Rodman invited his father — who he hadn’t seen since December 1969 — to watch the game. The two later caught up.

According to ESPN, Philander was overjoyed about reuniting with his son.

“I’ve been trying to meet him for years. And then last night, boom, I met him. I was really, really happy and very surprised.”

Philander Rodman

Unfortunately for Dennis, their meeting didn’t last long. Philander said he only spent about three minutes with his son because they only had time for greetings and handshakes. Dennis did receive his father’s phone number in the process, however.

Dennis had autographs to sign when they conversed, and that was part of his responsibilities. Still, it is sad to think that after 42 years apart, the two only spent three minutes together. Philander even said that he hoped to explain to Dennis why he left and that he didn’t abandon his family.

Philander Rodman had tried seeking his son out before

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That July 2012 meeting between Dennis Rodman and his father was 42 years in the making.

Philander Rodman had tried meeting his son six years earlier. Dennis had been in Manila for another exhibition game, but the two didn’t meet. At the time, Dennis had said he wasn’t “really interested in trying to have a family reunion.”

Things had changed by 2012, however. Rodman told fans at the exhibition match that his father was in the arena. Philander, wearing a red baseball cap that said, “Yes, Dennis Rodman is my son,” stood up.

“He accepted me as his father. That’s the first time he ever called me his father,” Philander said.

Dennis Rodman’s father died in 2020

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Dennis and Philander Rodman reunited on July 18, 2012. Nearly eight years to the day, Philander was gone.

Philander died on July 14, 2020, at the age of 79, after battling prostate cancer. Dennis Rodman did not issue a public statement about his father’s passing, and it is not known if he traveled to the Philippines for a funeral.

Things at least progressed to a point between the two where they reunited and accepted their connection. Dennis Rodman, eccentric and unpredictable as he can be, publicly acknowledged that Philander was his father, which speaks volumes to the NBA legend’s character.

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