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2007, Winter: The Ave Magazine – Like Father, Like Son

June 24, 2008

NBA baller Jalen Rose talks about his torn relationship with his all-star father, Jimmy Walker

My biological father is former NBA all-star Jimmy Walker, but growing
up I didn’t know who he was. My mom raised me by herself and hardly
ever spoke of him. It wasn’t until I played AAU (Amateur Athletic
Union) ball in middle school that I found out about him from one of my
coaches. [The Coach] had a projector down in his office and took me
down there one day after I had been cutting up. He showed me a whole
bunch of footage of my dad playing – schooling cats, too. I guess he
was trying to show me that if I stopped messing around I could maybe be
as good as he was someday.

As far as not having him around, I dealt with the situation for what it
was. I didn’t focus on what I didn’t have ’cause I had a loving mother,
a loving family and a great community that raised me. I always had
basketball too, so I didn’t really have to time to miss him. I guess
the nature of the situation is that you can’t really miss somebody who
was never there.

I did have a basketball card of his that I used to keep with me. But it
wasn’t really like a pride thing – it was more of a reminder of who he
was and what it meant to me that he wasn’t around. I guess you could
say there was a lot of spite in it; like I wanted him to know my name
one day. So in high school I wore No. 42 ’cause his number was 24. It
was little stuff like that I did just to spite him. I was immature at
the time, but I used it to drive me.

Now I really don’t have anything bad to say about him. You’ll never
hear me be derogatory towards [my father] because I’ve matured enough
to appreciate that he planted the see that created me. A lot of it is
just trusting that things will work out the way God intends them to. So
even though I still haven’t met him, I know that it’s for the best and
that we will meet eventually.

A part of me had always felt like he doesn’t want to meet me until I’m
done playing. I guess he doesn’t want to come off like he’s only coming
around ’cause I’m successful now. That’s the proud thing to do, you
know. But I do want to meet him. Even if I have to knock on his door,
I’ll do that because it’s important to me that we meet. I want him to
see what he produced.

Knowing what I know today, I can say that when you grow up without a
father it’s important to understand that life is an opportunity no
matter how it’s handed to you. You can’t sit around and be mad that
your pops ain’t around. You still gotta go out there and chase your
dreams.

As told by Alex Padilla