Friar Basketball

The Jalen Rose Connection

jalenroseinterview Provcast featuring Late Night Madness host and son of legendary Friar Jimmy Walker, Jalen Rose. To listen to the interview, click the play button below.

On August 21st, when news broke that Jalen Rose would be attending Providence College’s Late Night Madness, excitement grew throughout the PC fans base. With Rose, as well as hip-hop artist, Big Sean – Providence secured yet another edition of notable icons for the annual event which kicks-off the college basketball season every October. A year ago, PC brought in entertainer Nick Cannon and it was widely considered to be a huge success. This year, the school looks to build on the momentum of winning the Big East Championship and its first NCAA Tournament berth in nearly a decade. As exciting as that is for a fan base craving for yet another winning season, nobody is more thrilled for October 17th than Jalen Rose.

The connection between Rose and Providence College has been known for a while now. Rose, the son of legendary Friar Jimmy Walker, has since been open about the passing of his biological father in 2007. In a fantastic 2007 piece by Jerry Bembry, the legacy of Walker and Rose was laid out in full detail. As described in the ESPN article, 27 years passed before Rose ever spoke to his father. When Rose was born in 1973, he was brought into the world by his mother with no father-figure to be found. Jimmy Walker continued on with his life, choosing to remove himself from the relationship with Rose’s mother Jeanne.

Rose would not learn who his father was until he entered the 6th grade at St. Cecilia School in Detroit. After learning that his roots lied with one of the greatest players in college basketball history, Rose dedicated his life to making a name for himself so that his father would one day know his accomplishments.

Rose eventually wound up attending the University of Michigan as a member of the “Fab 5” and helped lead the Wolverines to two straight NCAA Tournament Championship appearances. During the 1992 NCAA Tournament, Jimmy Walker made his first attempt at connecting with his son. With the assistance of Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom, Walker wrote a letter to his son. That letter sat in Rose’s desk drawer for almost 10 years. Reluctant to read anything from the man that abandoned both him and his mother, Rose felt he wasn’t ready to read something that held such a heavy burden on his heart. Despite carrying his father’s basketball card in his wallet for years, Rose forced himself to wait.

In 1997, former PC standout Austin Croshere was drafted by the Indiana Pacers – the same team that Rose was playing for at the time. With ties to PC, Croshere played a large role in the eventual connection between father and son. Croshere said to Rose, “You look just like your father. … You should come visit Providence, everything at the school is named after your father. … I’ve got a couple of trophies with your father’s name.”

A year later, Rose read the letter.

Eventually, Rose would speak to Walker on the phone a handful of times but the two never got the opportunity to meet in person. In 2007, Walker passed away due to complications from lung cancer and the day of Walker’s funeral was the first time that the two ever occupied the same room.

Now in 2014, Rose is making his first trip to the school that his father left such a significant stamp on. In three seasons at PC, Walker recorded over 2,000 points and led the nation in scoring his senior year. Without the benefit of the three point line, Walker’s record held strong until 2005 when Ryan Gomes surpassed him by just 93 points. Walker is often credited for being the first player to utilize the between-the-legs dribble and for putting Providence College on the map. His greatest achievement came in 1965, when he tallied 50 points against a Bob Cousy Boston College team during the championship of the Madison Square Garden Holiday Basketball Festival.

Following his days at Providence, Walker was drafted first overall by the Detroit Pistons, in the 1967 NBA Draft. He played nine seasons in the league and scored over 10,000 points while being named to the All-Star team twice. Walker and Rose remain the only father-son combo to each score over 10,000 points in the NBA. walker_300_070703

Having been seven years since his father’s death, Rose is now comfortable and at ease with what transpired with his father. When asked if he has any hesitancy in visiting Providence College Rose said, “Not at all. When you’re young, you think young and you are immature sometimes. I was bitter and hurt, and rightfully so. Anytime you have a biological father that you never get the chance to meet and the only time you were in the same place at the same time was his funeral. So, there could be some trepidation if I was younger, but at this point in my life… it was a great opportunity for me to pay homage to his legacy and be a member of Midnight Madness.”

Invited by a longtime friend and current PC assistant, Mike Jackson, Rose will be on the campus of Providence College for the first time in his life in just a few weeks. “I want to do what I can to see the great legacy of Providence, but also to see how my father was recognized,” said Rose.

Rose’s connection with Providence College may be a bit out of the ordinary as well as unfortunate, but his visit will come with open arms from the school that owes so much to the many things that Jimmy Walker accomplished during his playing years in the late 1960’s. Rose is extremely excited to come to the Ocean State and made one request, “I need a Jimmy Walker jersey to wear that day, somebody help me out with that!”

Email Craig –
On Twitter – @Craig_Belhumeur

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