The humility of Derrick Rose never seems to fade.
When recently asked about notching a second Most Valuable Player award, Rose denied himself and rather uplifted Kevin Durant.
Time and time again, Rose is quick to deny himself and in turn exalt others. His humility is wondrously refreshing and quite frankly, an anomaly. In a sports culture where narcissism is customary, Rose exudes a counter-cultural, meek posture. How does he do this?
At the core of this, Derrick Rose considers himself blessed. It's like he recognizes he's just a normal human who has been uniquely given superhuman abilities. As a result of these abilities, he appears to carry a sense of stewardship with him, as if he doesn't want to haughtily strut his talents but rather gratefully enact them.
This attitude is a mystery and something we, as sports fans, aren't accustomed to.
How does Rose, the reigning MVP who possesses remarkable talents and fame, maintain such a humble, healthy perspective on himself and others?
The uniqueness of this begins with his roots, as he grew up in an unstable situation on Chicago's south side. Rose's gratitude for where he and his family now stand is clearly evident. This was distinctly featured in his MVP speech last season, in which he thanked his mother and remembered all her hard work on his behalf.
Rose hasn't forgot his roots and he knows how hard life can be, which enables him to now view his life through a lens of life-giving thankfulness. His remembrance of the past continually reminds him of how beautiful the present blessings are in his life.
Amidst this, he hasn't let the present blessings overpower his humble roots and cause conceit and egotism. Despite all the fame and fortune, he somehow hasn't lost sight of where he's from and how blessed he is.
These facets of Derrick Rose create a beautiful enigma. Everything about his present life of success beckons him to beat his chest and praise himself, but he's learned the art of humble gratitude, something which few of us have and certainly takes years to learn.
This rare characteristic of Rose's speaks so loudly because it stems from his heart. Truthfully, this should be magnified as his most admirable trait.
And this trait has been on display in a handful of different ways.
Throughout his four-year career, he's consistently pointed out his flaws and blamed himself for losses. A prime example was last year's Eastern Conference Finals loss to Miami, a series in which even the most ho-hum NBA fan recognized it wasn't Rose's fault that the Bulls lost (it was their inadequacy at other positions).
But Rose highlighted how he didn't make enough plays and didn't play smart enough. We rolled our eyes at his confessions but he was being totally serious.
The Miami playoff loss isn't the only example of this attitude. He comes down hard on himself after just about every loss. It's a testament to the way he modestly views himself and to the fact that he sets the bar extremely high when it comes to his performance.
Further, he's always quick to praise his teammates and others around the league. Frankly, when rumors were spreading a week or so ago about Rose wanting Pau Gasol traded to the Bulls for Carlos Boozer, it was easy to doubt such a rumor based on Rose's character.
Why would Rose suddenly throw Boozer under the bus? That's not the D-Rose we know.
Sure enough, Rose denied the rumors and articulated that pursuing such a thing is something he would "never do."
Rose's humility is even seen in the way he's always working to get better. You can make the argument that Rose takes improving his game more seriously than anyone. He's never satisfied. He always sees a flaw to work on, a new facet to add and an opposing player to outwork.
This drive amplifies the humble heart of a man who never sees himself too largely and always envisions ways he can tack new assets onto his already versatile repertoire.
One may argue that Rose wasn't too humble when he bravely posed the question prior to last season, "Why can't I be MVP?"
But it doesn't take a psychologist to recognize that this question wasn't posed out of arrogance, but out of confidence in which Rose wanted to set a high standard for himself.
Arrogance reveals itself by individually glorifying oneself and disregarding others. Confidence, on the other hand, is enlivened through a heart of courage and poise that also respects others.
Rose epitomizes an athlete who embraces a heart of confidence as well as a rare humility. He finds a way to merge these two, which goes against the sports norms we're familiar with.
And he finds ways to do this on the floor, when he dashes through the lane for another acrobatic layup and jogs back on defense like it was nothing; and off it, where he's quick to praise others and recognize his humble roots.
Truthfully, there's every reason to think this unique characteristic of humility will assist Rose throughout his NBA career. It's remained steady through him being the No. 1 overall draft pick, Rookie of the Year, and Most Valuable Player as well as the discouraging times of defeat and hardship.
It's seemingly wrapped into his DNA and diffused towards others as a breath of fresh air. And it's not just a humility revealed on the court or in reference to others, but is more accurately a humble perspective on life in general, which permeates all the different spheres Rose enters.
Rose may only be 23, but he possesses traits we can all learn from and admire. He embodies the type of humility that is empowering towards others, revealing that his life is inspirational in more powerful ways than simply putting a ball through a hoop.
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