Jalenland: For the Ultimate Doer, a Higher Purpose Calls Back Home

The most outspoken member of the Fab 5 is a one-man media conglomerate. It's because he's trying to put his city on his back --transforming one mind at a time

jalen rose leadership academyAt 40, he’s a young man by every standard except that of a professional athlete. It’s only through that lens does the week of Nov. 10 make sense for Jalen Rose.

On Nov. 11 he tweeted that it was snowing in Detroit. The next day Mr. Rose did College Gameday at the United Center where four of the top five teams — Michigan State, Kansas, Kentucky and Duke — played two riveting, highly watched games. The next morning he hopped on a 7 a.m. flight for an NBA Countdown meeting. On Friday he did the show with Bill Simmons and his good friend Sage Steele. None of that accounts for briefings on what’s happening on the school he founded. Mr. Rose also has a book coming in 2014 and founded Three Tier Entertainment, the production company that produced the Fab 5 documentary with ESPN’s 30 for 30 series.

“Jalen had College Gameday last night and flew in this morning from Chicago on a 7 a.m. flight, and he didn’t miss a beat,” Countdown coordinating producer Amina Hussein wrote in an email. “He’s just a tireless worker. Like that first kid in the gym, always working on his craft.”

According to Basketball-Reference.com, Mr. Rose made well over $100 million over the course of his playing career. So why is he working so much?

Is it the failure associated with not winning a national championship as a member of the University of Michigan? The sting of having never met Jimmy Walker, the No. 1 pick of the 1967 draft, who, it should be noted, happens to be his late father? Is it the work ethic he honed on the basketball court, the same attitude about work that seems encapsulated by the phrase Detroit vs. Everybody?

For Mr. Rose, it is a simple equation.

“The more I build up Jalen, the more I build up JRLA.”

He spoke by phone from Los Angeles, fresh out of a meeting for Countdown which ended in time for staffers to watch Game 1 of the World Series.

“I wasn’t a Hall of Fame player. I wasn’t a 10-time All-Star. I don’t have people just closing their eyes willing to give me a blank check. So I really have got to roll up my sleeves and be committed to do it. It allows me to be a beacon and a champion for the cause of graduating young men and women from high school and college.”

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