The following article first appeared in the Detroit News. Jalen Rose, Founder of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, has repeatedly expressed his support for ELT as a tool for getting his students not only up to speed but successful in college and beyond. This article provided a little back story into Rose’s own meaningful mentorship while he was in high school.
Perry Watson remembers a 12-year-old Jalen Rose walking up to him and declaring, “I’m going to play for you.”
Watson was then the coach of powerhouse Detroit Southwestern High School and he knew nothing of the skinny pre-teen who attended St. Cecilia School, but the early statement gave great insight into Rose’s psyche.
“He was always a perceptive young man and really knew what he wanted,” Watson says. “Jalen knew about me and SW and I didn’t know Jalen Rose. He would watch all the teams play and say he’d be better than all of them.”
The two developed a relationship from that point, fostered by Rose’s mother, Jeanne, and when he was dropped off at Southwestern High School as a freshman, she told Watson, “He’s yours now. He needs a man in his life.”
From that point on, Rose and Watson’s relationship matured, with Rose becoming a high school basketball legend at Southwestern, then becoming the leader of the University of Michigan’s Fab Five in 1991, then finally spending more than a decade in the NBA.
Even though he left Michigan after his junior year to enter the NBA draft in order to help his family financially, he finished his degree in management studies, giving him the foundation for starting his own school, the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy on Detroit’s west side.
“My goal is to put these kids in positions where they can succeed,” Rose says while displaying various college pennants through the halls of his school. “I don’t care where they go to school, but I want them to see that it’s possible visually, and give them the requisite skills to be productive.”
The school is in its third year, and Rose has spent at least $2.5 million of his money to get the charter school off the ground. He cites the divide between the city and suburbs as something he wants to bridge, hoping today’s youth has a better chance at succeeding. “You don’t want these kids on the streets. We have longer school days, a longer school year,” Rose says. “We have to get these students up to speed.”
As a high school senior, Rose was a full qualifier to Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and Arts, in huge part thanks to the guidance of his mother and the steady hand of the coach who still mentors him to this day.
“Some of the things I said to him back then, you never knew he was listening,” Watson says. “But I’ve heard him say some of the same things to his students today and it warms my heart. I’m so proud of my guy.”