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At just 22 years of age, Derrick Rose became the youngest player in history to win the NBA Most Valuable Player award. Rose was just the second Chicago Bulls player to earn such an honor, the other obviously being Michael Jordan. It was a beautiful story as Rose had grown up just 10 miles from the United Center, where the Bulls have called home since 1994.

Rose grew up in Englewood on Chicago’s South Side, which is certainly no picnic. It’s one of the roughest neighborhoods in the Windy City, a poverty-stricken community overrun with gang activity and poor schools. When it became clear that Derrick Rose could be something special as it pertains to the game of basketball, everyone knew there would be distractions. But his mother and three brothers did everything in their power to make sure that he stayed on the right track.

Derrick Rose is the youngest of four brothers

As a single mother to four boys in Englewood, Brenda Rose had plenty to deal with. The family often had very little money but she made sure to keep her sons in check. She had three boys before giving birth to Derrick Rose, Dwayne, Reggie, and Allan, all of whom attended college and held good jobs when Derrick was young. She often took it upon herself to go into the streets and drag her children away from trouble. Even the drug dealers in the neighborhood kept her in the loop if one of her boys was even thinking about getting into trouble.

It was clear around his eighth-grade year that Derrick Rose was going to be something special. But Brenda Rose certainly couldn’t do everything on her own when it came to Derrick’s basketball and honestly didn’t really understand the game. With no father figure in the picture, her other three sons stepped up to fill the role. They were all much older than Derrick and had their respective jobs but made sure to take the time to protect their little brother.

His brothers kept him protected during his rise to stardom

Dwayne, Reggie, and Alan kept Derrick Rose protected as word of his talents began to spread. At least one of them would come by each morning to take him to school and one of them was always there to pick him up. At least one of them was there for basketball practice and games. The three even picked out where their brother went to high school, making sure he would end up in the right place to keep his basketball goals alive and safe. Dwayne once “Sports Illustrated” the story of how they chose Simeon.

“When we were looking at high schools for Derrick, we looked at how many gang areas he’d have to go through to get to school. We looked at the neighborhoods around the school. We talked about how many friends he would have there who would look out for him.”

Dwayne Rose

When Derrick enrolled at Simeon in 2003, he started attracting major attention but his brothers always had a collective eye on him.

“We’d do good cop, bad cop on him all the time. If he went somewhere when none of the brothers were free, we’d have someone we trusted go and spy on him.”

Reggie Rose

Simeon’s head coach at the time had a rule about freshmen joining the varsity team so Derrick Rose simply led the freshman team to a city championship. That’s when things really started to explode. Recruiters and agents and just about everyone around wanted a piece of him. When his cell phone number somehow got out, things got even worse. When he got a new number, the family came up with a new system. Nobody could talk to Derrick without going through the brothers first.

Derrick Rose realizes his NBA dreams

As the legend of Derrick Rose grew throughout his time at Simeon, which included back-to-back state titles in his junior and senior seasons (including one against this writer’s high school), so did the attention. He was offered cars and money and everything in between, which would usually bring a big ego. But his brothers kept him grounded, even when he earned All-American honors. At the press conference where Derrick signed his letter of intent to Memphis, he made sure that his two teammates that were signing with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee were there with him, saying they deserved a press conference as well. That was his brothers’ influence on him.

Reggie would often join Derrick Rose during his one year in Memphis, which actually got the school into trouble as it was later accused of paying his travel fees. But Reggie simply wanted to make sure that his brother was staying safe. He knew that Derrick would be a one-and-done player and he was determined to make sure his younger brother realized his NBA dreams, which came true in 2008.

Yes, Derrick Rose has unfortunately become one of those “what if” NBA stories as injuries have plagued his once-promising career. But he’s made quite the comeback these last couple of seasons. He’s still just 31 years old and has plenty left to prove. Most kids from Englewood can’t even dream of the success and the fortune that he’s enjoyed in the past dozen years. But Derrick Rose used his talents to get out of a bad situation. And he had his family right beside him the entire way.