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AOL.com – Good News Now: Ex-NBA Star Builds Charter School

November 18, 2010

(Nov. 18) — Former NBA star Jalen Rose has a lot to be proud of: He was a player on two University of Michigan basketball teams that went to the Final Four; he had a 13-year career in the NBA and he is currently a highly regarded hoop analyst for ESPN.

But his greatest honor won’t be ready until next year: his own school.

Rose is building a charter school in his hometown of Detroit that will help give students the education and life skills they need to succeed.

When the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy opens in September 2011, it will provide a free education to 500 high school students.

Even though Rose is reportedly one of only three athletes who have had a school named for him, he’s more thrilled about the prospect of making a difference.

“I am very excited to do what I can,” he told AOL News. “The people who are working on it are doing a tremendous job helping kids to learn.”

Kids have always needed a helping hand up the ladder of success, but Rose feels this generation needs a boost more than others.

“Kids today are exposed to so many things, whether it’s TV, radio, the Internet,” he said. “They’ve lost their innocence, and that can get them sidetracked. We are going to work on having a 100 percent graduation rate and give the students lessons in life and the skills to be successful.”

Since the word leadership is right up there in the title next to Rose’s name, he wants to stress the social skills that help shape young people who can take charge in the future.

“We will teach about dealing with peer pressure, insecurity, and we will work on things like illiteracy and etiquette,” Rose said, before adding for emphasis: “But the focus needs to be on learning.”

Rose says he realizes that he has reached a pinnacle few people do, and credits his family for helping him. However, he says the point of the academy is that the responsibility of raising a child doesn’t just rest with a mom or a dad.

“I was the beneficiary of a village,” he said. “Besides my parents, there were teachers and coaches. Growing up, we had our struggles, but we did the best we can. This is about planting seeds for a good harvest.”

Of course, Rose also wants the students to know they have some say in how they turn out as well.

“We’re going to stress the importance of getting good grades and making responsible choices,” Rose said.