In a CNN interview posted on Friday, the normally soft-spoken Derrick Rose gave an honest assessment about the causes of violence in Chicago. “It all starts with poverty,” Rose said. “People are just surviving, just really trying to get out.”
Rose’s personal connection with Chicago violence is well-documented. There were 660 murders in the city in 1988, the year Derrick Rose was born. In high school, he wore No. 25 in honor of Ben Wilson, a prominent area high school basketball player who was murdered in 1984. The role Rose’s family played in keeping him isolated from neighborhood gangs has taken on a mythological quality, to the point where Reggie Rose told the Sun-Times in 2011 that gang members would warn his family of impending danger.
And then, of course, there was the interview last year where D Rose broke into tears as he talked about dodging the violence:
With all of the stuff that’s going on in this city, a kid from Englewood has got something positive going on. That makes me feel so good. […] And I know it means a lot to my family, because we’re not supposed to be here. At all. But God made the way.
Derrick Rose is not known for waxing poetic, but when it comes to talking about his home, he is on the money: poverty and violence are intimately intertwined. 2010 saw Rose’s Englewood neighborhood hit a poverty rate of 46 percent as unemployment hung at 20 percent, both double the national average. The next year, Englewood had a 40 percent increase in murders even as the overall city rate dropped two percent.
Earlier this year, the New York Times analyzed Chicago’s census data with crime statistics and the results were stark: those living near homicides earned less money and were less likely to hold college degrees.
With the situation so bleak, Rose hopes that he can revitalize and inspire his hometown. “I just try to bring hope to my city. Of course we’re going through so much, with crime, to bring that positive energy back. bring the excitement back, so we can get back on the right track,” Rose said. “Just give them a reason to go out there and work hard and know that the reason they’re working hard is to help people.”