In 2011, Jalen Rose put his money where his heart is and started a school in his hometown of Detroit. On Saturday the 13-year NBA player-turned-ESPN and ABC analyst told the 100 young men and women of the school's first graduating class, "The only person that you are destined to become is the person you decide to be."
According to the Detroit News, all the students who started at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in 2011 graduated, and 100 percent of the graduating class will be either attending college or a trade or technical school or serving in the military.
The Detroit News notes that many of the "students worked hard and received full scholarships to the schools of their choice, including University of Michigan, University of Michigan, Dearborn, and Michigan State University," with the "total amount of gift aid for the Class of 2015 exceeding $2.1 million."
Each senior received a tablet and was treated to inspirational speeches from Detroit-native rapper Big Sean (who, according to the newspaper, graduated from high school with a 3.7 GPA) and adopted Detroit hero Isiah Thomas.
"I truly have love for the city. It made me who I am," Big Sean, whose real name is Sean Anderson, told the students. "I feel like we can do anything because our city has gone through so much. We have seen the bottom and we have seen the top. No matter what, we are going to be who we are and find a way to survive."
Thomas, the Hall of Fame former point guard for the Detroit Pistons, wasted no time in dropping a basketball analogy.
"You just made it to the playoffs," Thomas, now president of the WNBA Liberty, said. "Now we have to get ready for the finals. Your job, your responsibility as leaders, is to make sure you leave the door open. Jalen Rose, thank you for opening that door."
Rose told all the students that although they are leaving the school, they are not leaving the school family.
"This is not 'Goodbye,' " Rose said, according to the Detroit News. "This is just 'See you later.' The job is not done."
Read more at the Detroit News.