For a few hours Tuesday night, Jalen Rose was one of us.
One of the most legendary and controversial basketball players in the history of the sport was on CMU’s campus to speak from a position of prudence and wisdom.
But during his time spent in Mount Pleasant, Rose could have passed for a Chippewa who got lost at Plachta Auditorium on his way back from class.
The retired 13-season NBA veteran and ABC/ESPN broadcaster shared personal stories, made fun of celebrities and entertained nearly 1,000 people.
“Always respect others. No one owes you anything. Have discipline and be diligent,” Rose told the crowd. “The hardest thing to coach in sports and in life is effort. Master that and you will have success.”
He was paid $10,000 for his speaking role, according to CMU Program Board Director Damon Brown.
A product of inner city Detroit, Rose was a member of the notorious 1991 University of Michigan men’s basketball team dubbed “The Fab Five.”
He told stories of hard times growing up in poverty and how higher education and athletic skill helped him accomplish things he “never imagined.”
“I have such a strong connection to students and people in general from the Detroit-area,” Rose told Central Michigan Life. “We are having a hard time right now with this bankruptcy (in Detroit.) It is a time when everyone needs to pull together. The students are essential to that process.”
In an effort to support the Motor City, Rose opened the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, an open-enrollment public charter high school on Detroit’s northwest side, in 2011.
Rose praised Central Michigan University for being the institution responsible for the endowment of the JRLA.
“CMU is a fantastic school with a very high standard that is well-respected all over the state,” Rose said. “It has entrenched itself as a leader in this state for education. We are very happy with our partnership.”
The former Wolverine took to social media websites prior to going before the CMU crowd.
During his presentation, a projector displaying tweets using the hashtag #JRoseCMU scrolled behind the 6-foot-8-inch Michigan icon.
Via Twitter and open forum, students, faculty and community members questioned Rose on everything from his basketball to his dating career.
“You have to know who you are talking to,” Rose told CM Life. “I try to have fun and relate, because not long ago I was in a student’s Nikes.”
Brown said Rose was “the perfect” candidate for a speaking gig at CMU.
“We are always trying to bring in diverse types of entertainment,” Brown said. “Jalen is someone who has been able to make an impact not only in his community but worldwide. He talks about goals and motivation and giving back to the community. We want to bring subjects in that make people think.”
Rose proved his genuine interest in the lives and career choices of those present at the event, asking what individuals “wanted to be when (they grew) up.”
“A common misconception about public speaking is you have to know who you are talking to and dealing with,” Rose told CM Life. “I want to do what I can do educate young men and young women and put them on the right path and possibly turn around the fortune of their families.”
Rose preached an ethical standard to what he called a “very receptive” audience Tuesday night.
“A lot of times, the root of success is based in what your core values are,” he told the crowd. “It’s OK to navigate through life however you see fit, as long as you have respect for your fellow person.”