"Something All Our Own", The Grant Hill Collection of African American Art.

Tamia is a chart-topping R&B artist with four Grammy nominations.

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    By Song of Solomon VIII,7
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    Maya Angelou (1928 - )

Grant’s Unedited Response to the Fab Five’s Documentary

Due to space constraints, the editorial posted in the New York Times was shortened. Read Grant’s full, unedited response to the Fab Five’s comments in their recent documentary here.

I am a fan, friend and long time competitor of the Fab Five.  This should not be a surprise because I am a contemporary of every member of that iconic team.  I have competed against Jalen and Chris since the age of 13.  Jalen, Chris, and Juwan are my friends and have been for 25 years.  At Michigan, they represented a cultural phenomenon that impacted the country in a permanent and positive way.  The very idea of the Fab Five elicited pride and promise in much the same way the Georgetown teams did in the mid-80s when I was in high school and idolized them.   Their journey from youthful icons to successful men today is a road map for so many young, black men (and women) who saw their journey through the powerful documentary, Fab Five.

It was a sad and somewhat pathetic turn of events, therefore, to see friends narrating this interesting documentary about their moment in time and calling me a bitch and worse, calling all black players at Duke “Uncle Toms” and, to some degree, disparaging my parents for their education, work ethic and commitment to each other and to me.  I should have guessed there was something regrettable in the documentary when Jay Williams and I received a Twitter apology from Jalen before its airing.  And, I am aware Jalen has gone to some length to explain his remarks about my family in numerous interviews, so I believe he has some admiration for them.

In his garbled but sweeping comment that  “Duke only recruits black Uncle Toms,” Jalen seems to change the usual meaning of those very vitriolic words into his own meaning, i.e., blacks from two-parent, middle class families.  He leaves us all guessing exactly what he believes today.   And, I wonder if I would have suggested to former Detroit Pistons GM Rick Sund to keep Jimmy King on the team if I had known, back then in the mid-90s, that he would call me a bitch on a nationally televised show in 2011.

I am beyond fortunate to have two parents who are still working well into their 60s.  They received great educations and use them every day.   My parents taught me a personal ethic I try to live by and pass on to my children.  They remain committed to each other after more than 40 years and to my wife, Tamia, our children, and me.  They are my role models and always will be.

I come from a strong legacy of black Americans.  My namesake, Henry Hill, my father’s father, was a day laborer in Baltimore.  He could not read or write until he was taught to do so by my grandmother.   His first present to my dad was a set of encyclopedias, which I now have to remind me of the importance of education.  He wanted his only child, my father, to have a good education, so he made numerous sacrifices to see that he got an education, including attending Yale.   This is part of our great tradition as black Americans.  We aspire for the best or better for our children and work hard to make that happen for them.  Jalen’s mother is part of our great, black tradition and made the same sacrifices for him.

It is unbeknownst to me what Jalen meant by his convoluted reference to black players at Duke considering how little he knows about any of them.  My teammates—all of them, black and white—were a band of brothers who came together to play at the highest level for the best coach in basketball.   I know most of the black players who preceded and followed me at Duke.  They all contribute to our tradition of excellence on the court. It is insulting and ignorant to suggest that men such as Johnny Dawkins (coach at Stanford), Tommy Amaker (coach at Harvard), Billy King (GM at the Nets), Tony Lang (coach of the Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins in Japan ), Thomas Hill (small business owner in Texas), Jeff Capel (former coach at Oklahoma), Kenny Blakeley (assistant coach at Harvard), Jay Williams (ESPN analyst), Shane Battier (Memphis Grizzlies) or Chris Duhon (Orlando Magic) now or ever sold out their race.   To hint that those who grew up in a household with a mother and father are somehow less black than those who did not is beyond ridiculous.  All of us are extremely proud of the current team, especially Nolan Smith.  He was raised by his mother, plays in memory of his late father and carries himself with the pride and confidence that they instilled in him.  He is the quintessential young Dukie.

The sacrifice, the effort, the education and the friendships I experienced in my four years are priceless and cherished.  The many Duke graduates I have met around the world are also my “family,” and they are a special group of people.    A good education is a privilege.   At Duke, the expectations are high for all of us.   Just as Jalen has founded a charter school in Michigan, we are expected to use our education to help others, to improve life for those who need our assistance and to use the excellent education we have received to better the world.   The total experience at Duke taught us to think before we act, to pause before we speak and to realize that as adults we have a responsibility to do good, not just do well.   A highlight of my time at Duke was getting to know the late, great John Hope Franklin, James B. Duke Professor of History and the leading scholar of the last century on the total history of African Americans in this country.  His insights and perspectives contributed significantly to my overall development and helped me understand myself, my forefathers, and my place in the world.

Ad ingenium faciendum, toward the building of character, is a phrase I recently heard.  To me, it is the essence of an educational experience.  Struggling, succeeding, trying again and having fun within a nurturing but competitive environment built character in all of us, including every black graduate of Duke.

My mother always says, “You can live without Chaucer and you can live without calculus, but you cannot make it in the wide, wide world without common sense.” As we get older, we understand the importance of these words.  Adulthood is nothing but a series of choices:  you can say yes or no, but you cannot avoid saying one or the other.  In the end, those who are successful are those who adjust and adapt to the decisions they have made and make the best of them.   I only hope I can instill in my children the same work ethic, the same values, the same common sense approach to life and the same pursuit of excellence my parents, Coach K and Duke gave me.

I caution my fabulous five friends to avoid stereotyping me and others they do not know in much the same way so many people stereotyped you back then for your appearance and swagger.  I wish for you the restoration of the bond that made you friends, brothers and icons.  I hope you reach closure with your university so you will enjoy all the privileges of its greatness.

I try to live my life as a good husband and father.  I am proud of my family.  I am proud of my Duke championships and all my Duke teammates.  And, I am proud I never lost a game against the Fab Five.

Grant Henry Hill
Phoenix Suns
Duke ‘94

631 Responses to “Grant’s Unedited Response to the Fab Five’s Documentary”

  1. Paul R. Smith says:

    Mr. Grant Hill, thank you for your inspiring words! What a contrast and what a just way to respond.

    Love Duke as they inspire excellence and something more than just self aggrandizement, something more than just basketball. Not that the University of Michigan doesn’t but their comments we simply hurtful, dishonorable and wrong.

    Coach K spent money out of his own pocket to get us a phone and computer bank during my last tour in Iraq. The Duke Alumni gave us money to purchase gym equipment. I am sure that is another example of the stark differences between your team, the principles and fundamentals about life that you were taught. I am forever grateful for examples like Coach K and people like you who care about more than just themselves and try to live in a like hearted, Christian manner in pursuit of excellence, to love and serve others.

    You have always been one of my favorite players, and your stature continues to grow. Thank you and may God Bless you and your family.

  2. Janel says:

    Mr. Grant Hill has so much class that Mr. Jalen Rose should take note and implement. We should never get down out of our chariot to walk amongst the peasants. Good job Mr. Hill for standing strong with class. You are an excellent example of who and what an African-American should be. Thanks Mr. Hill for your sound example against such stupidity. You’re the bomb!

    - Janel Johnson, B.S., MBA and Business Owner

  3. A. Shawn Farrell says:

    I have always been a Fan of Duke ever since I first saw you playing. I remember all the great teams and players and even though I have never been to the campus and probably will never set foot inside “Cam” Indoor, I bleed DUKE BLUE!! I am a black american and I do not see color or class when it comes to sports, isn’t it supposed to be that way? I respect the feelings of Jalen and co. However I disagree with them as well. We all make mistakes and I feel that Jalen honestly has made a mistake with his comments. You can only help others so much! He will apologize and we all will move on from this for the better. He will try to rectify this situation, and it’ll be done well before Michigan ever wins the Tournament.


  4. Mark Rolinger says:

    Grant Hill- class

    Jalen Rose- sad

    Grant Hill understands what it means to be a successful man. A successful man loves and respects his wife and is a role model for his children.

    Jalen Rose is more worried about his street cred than his true legacy, as a husband and father.

    Thanks, Grant, we know there are countless black men and women that “get it” and don’t limit their perona to a brotha from the hood.

  5. Melvin Hall says:


    I’m a 52 year old African American from Baltimore, Md. I never never viewed Duke as described by the Fab5: I was not a Duke fan but a Terp and Hoya fan. However, I respected the way the Duke players performed and the way they carried themselves.

    Thanks for the positive image you project.

  6. Dami Animashaun says:

    Hello Grant,

    I am currently and undergraduate at Rutgers University and I can empathize with the sentiments you have towards Jalen’s comments. I have had many people say I am “trying to be white” or “I wish I was white” because I not only value the education I am receiving at my University, but I also take full advantage of it. Comments such as those are not only demeaning to all Blacks who are struggling for something better, but it is a slap in the face of our great forefathers. However, I also take exception to the your rebuttal to Jalen’s comments. Calling their comments sad and pathetic went a bit too far.They were simply reflecting on the feeling they had when they were 17 and 18 years old, rather than attempting to insult you or your family. Being a fan of both yours and Jalens, you both serve as inspiration in different ways. Seeing his maturation and change over the course of 25 years(in the movie)inspires me to improve and become better. And seeing you maintain the standard of greatness that you have fore years and years is refreshing and at the least commendable.

  7. Diana Franklin says:

    As a Dukie(’58), mother grandmother and fanatic Duke basketball fan, I thank you for saying so beautifully what all people of good will believe.
    You nailed it young man!
    Duke and Duke basketball have given me so many wonderful memories. Nothing….including winning this years title (did I really say that?)could give me more pride in being a Duke University grad. Bless you and your family.

  8. When Grant Hill played high school basketball at South Lakes, he was a man among boys. He is now a man among men and a shinning example of what we all hope for young people growing up today irregardless of color or creed.

  9. C. Walters says:

    I do not know where Jaelen Rose was looking, but he did not come to Houston, Tx. It is here where a single mom with three kids, sent two of her kids to Duke. One of the kids is presently attending. Why do some black americans want the other blacks to be a shamed of rising above poverty or the struggle, not be happy they made it out of that environment but to stay in it forever mentaly. We as a people need to realise one sure way to the top or a better life is through education. We can acheive a hole lot morewith that than just sports and trying to be ghetto fabulous. Hole was not mispelled. Until we get the kids to understand it is not just ok to make As and Bs but it is expected of us to do great on a whole, we will just be left with a hole that will never close.

  10. Mark Eller says:

    Well said. I was offended on Tuesday when Skip Bayless brought it up and Rose and King both tried to justify what they had said. They were still trying to come up with poor blacks that went to Duke. Tuesday offended more than the special on Sunday did. When Skip brought it up they could have just said hey, we were young and we don’t feel that way now but they didn’t until you came out with your responce.

    I am a 50 year old white male who is a UNC fan. I have lost everything I owned. Today I drove an old van to the Flea market and made $54 and that is what I have to my name. I have so much respect for you and your family. I am proud to said you went to school here in North Carolina.

    Go Duke

  11. R, Worford says:

    Hear Hear.

  12. Fernando says:

    I watched this documentary and came away with the message that Jalen Rose was speaking from a historical stand point and not exclaiming current feelings or beliefs.

    In the documentary, he states that those feelings that he held where he hated you and your Duke teammates were from when he was 18 years old, a time in life, if we all remember when we were 18, when you think you know it all and only as time goes by do we realize that we in fact knew nothing.

    Rose’s comments are more a reflection of Rose acknowledging his jealousy of you and your situation and where his hatred was coming from; I didn’t come away from that documentary thinking that the adult Rose currently considers you a bitch or an Uncle Tom.

    Most definitely, hearing these words from a man you consider your friend, televised from a produced television show, is hurtful and should elicit some sort of response. It’s only human.

    The unfortunate result of this may be the fact that future stories will refrain from telling the truth so much that this documentary did, so as to not hurt anyone’s feelings.

  13. Gov says:

    Well said Grant Hill. You’re an inspiration to all. You were raised in an environment that is not specific to any race, color, and creed. It was simply a good environment that every human person deserves and should strive for.

  14. Bravo Mr. Hill!

    You took the high road and are a better man for it. You don’t need to apologise to anyone for the opportunities that presented themselves in life and how you took advantage of those opportunities. You are a true role model and leader. Bravo, bravo, bravo sir!!! Liked the last line – enough said.

    Best Wishes and Success in your future endeavors,

    Tom Basora, DDS

  15. Josh says:

    Hi Grant -

    We were contemporaries in Northern VA growing up (Paul VI – class of ’90) and my wife to be is a proud graduate of South Lakes HS.

    I’d like to tell you how moving this piece has been to me. I was very disappointed to hear Jalen’s comments as I thought better of him and his former teammates. Someday when I’m teaching my own children about the value of race, education, and sports I’m going to have them watch the Fab Five video and then read your response.

    I find that there are lessons to be learned from both Jalen’s unbelievable remarks and your valued response.

    Good Luck in the future!

    Josh Norton

  16. ali says:

    Well said. Thank you

  17. Oliver Burr says:

    This is fantastic, it is a shame that this may not be as widely viewed as the documentary. -A loyal Duke fan

  18. Jeff says:

    Mr. Hill,

    I must say that reading your response in its entirety still leaves me questioning whether you actually watched the program. Jalen Rose was very clear in articulating his perspective as a 17-year old Detroit teen, not a 37-year old mature man who has traveled the globe. He did not say “This is how I feel about black players who go to Duke,” but rather “This is how I felt about black players who went to Duke.” Perhaps you did recognize this and your response took issue more with the language used in articulating his past feelings. If so, this is not accurately conveyed in your letter as it is written, thereby resulting in even more confusion about an already volatile topic. My hope would have been that this be addressed privately between you and Mr. Rose.

    I also feel strongly that Rose’s subsequent confession about the resentment he held at the time for you (again, expressed as past tense) should have given you pause to even respond at all, especially publicly. Rose provided a vivid glimpse into his personal past, and it was clear that he was speaking from a painful place, but in no way did he ever make a present-day assertion about those same individuals he despised in the past, including you.

    Your response is well-written but unfitting; I anticipate you have had many experiences in dealing with such ignorance in the past. I also anticipate that you have witnessed people overcoming such ignorance and therefore would have recognized the need to be much more judicious (i.e. silent) in response to Rose’s comments on the show.

    As an African-American who holds both of you gentlemen in high esteem, I’m concerned that your published letter conveys a haste that had not fully considered the context of the comments or the gravity of the subject matter. That said, I understand that you want to be clear about your family being granted proper respect for upholding virtues that are universally recognized as among the highest any human being could have. I do ask that you consider continuing the conversation by emphasizing the values you and Jalen Rose share, most importantly in communicating the importance of education in helping individuals evolve from places of bitter ignorance to greater awareness and appreciation of the diversity of human experience. Thank you so much for all that you have done in your public life thus far; please keep it up.


    Jeff Gardner
    Marquette ’99

  19. Kyle O. says:

    I think this entire story is completely blown out of proportion. Jalen Rose was speaking on behalf of his 17 year old self. He has even said in interviews that Grant Hill was everything that Jalen Rose should have been, Rose was just jealous of Hill; he just didnt know how to show it. The fact that this is a newsworthy story, and the fact that Grant Hill felt the need to publish an entire letter about it is a testament to how politically correct our society has become. So I say grow up everybody, including Mr. Hill, Jalen was simply stating what he thought 20+ years ago! Twenty years from now, if i find out a classmate/rival/etc calls me a sell out, or cheap I simply will not care. I’m disappointed in Grant Hill for being so offended by this scenario.

  20. Carl Deane says:

    Grant Hill you are one class act. You are a credit to your race (human race). Your so called friends are showing how they envy you. I think that they are also showing that they are bigots.

  21. Rev. Dr. Walter Brownridge says:

    Thank you for this and the NY Times piece! As an African – American with multiple graduate degrees and one son at Brown, your eloquent discourse is needed.

    Fr. Walter Brownridge
    Georgetown Law 1987
    Hoya Saxa!

  22. Chris Kay says:

    Very well said. What an amazing reply to a very difficult subject.

  23. Marco says:

    Classy, articulate, and pointed response…What else would we expect from Grant Hill? It is great to hear a Black man,(not running for office, stand up to these vitriolic comments with such a candor and clarity. Great response, now please help the Suns find another rebounder this summer.

  24. Ken Sands says:

    Grant, that was well said, and I am proud of you, not for all of your accomplishments on the court, but for the way you have lead your life.
    Ken Sands Duke 92

  25. Joel says:

    Mr. Grant Hill well put. I love the Fab Five story as much as the next guy but your place in history with them is well deserved and disrespected here. At some point Jalen should’ve came out and said this was all then, naive teens angry because we aren’t as priveldged and it never came.

  26. Hello, Bonjour, Konnichiwa, Annyong Haseyo and Good Day!

    My name is Adam h. I’m a 35 year old, Canadian gentleman and I have been really impressed with your recent comments concerning some of the ideas expressed in “The Fab Five”.

    You are a poignant penman. I felt a deep sense of empathy and pride, for all people, when you made the effort to clear the air without disparaging the individuals whom not only came across, through their own volition, as racist, but racist against their own race, I dare not say people, as we are all the same people.

    I’m a white guy from a small town, who has spread his wings and travelled but I have never faced race as an issue until I went overseas. I have become aware that race is a serious issue in everyday life but, in my hometown, as a child and as a student it was not.

    I’ve been on the lee side of colour since then on many occassions and I hope that will change with every setting sun. Mr. Grant Hill, it has recently come to me that you are an American Steve Nash :) , full of class and a person to be emulated. Good on you!… I think your ancestors are very, very proud!!

    Go Suns Go!
    Adam h.

  27. Marks says:

    It’s shame! Jalen Rose didn’t preface his words properly, by saying “when I was 18, these were my feelings and beliefs…”. The rest of his backtracking by boasting, “I said to their face.” is sadder. Nothing worse than mouthy, whiny players while their losing games to superior talent and teams. Beat them and they wouldn’t shake hands after wards.

    In my community is a 6’8 Junior in high school, three time state champion basketball teams already and the first to do that. He’s getting many coaches attention. He is a very good student too. He could be Duke chosen if his talent becomes good enough. I hope he stays local or in state college and keeps himself grounded a bit. The enticements are out there.

    Some of the Fab Five took money and gifts from a crook. When a college has to take back wins and champion banners, those players all their lives should never stop apologizing. Rose has many things to apologize for now or stop talking about his time at Michigan for good.

    This new generation not yet in college just had cold water of realities thrown on their face, Kids feel shame certain colleges don’t recruit them. What’s wrong with those kids going to the college themselves. Jalen Rose could have taken a bus to Duke. Chris Webber knew the way.

    There is still the sting or stink of Memphis Derrick Rose and his brother riding along their team bus. No matter his talent in the NBA, he embarrassed the college, wins taken away. It’s fate he missed the free throws in the last minutes during regulation. Maybe it was shame finally catching up to him in some way. He knew academically didn’t qualify for college and then it hit him there on the free throw line to win the National Championship. He played high school defense when KU Chalmers shot the three to tie.

    I applaud you Grant Hill and your Duke teams. Much to admire. When Florida won back to back National Championships, they didn’t seem like a team good as what Duke was. Maybe the comparison shouldn’t be done. College basketball has had too many younger players go in the NBA.

    I’m hoping for the kids not yet it college, this March Madness and it’s results gives them a positive future. There is no college they can’t go to if it really matters to them. The one and done players have to stop doing that. College should be two years or more, that’s what getting a scholarship is about. The first year scholarship locks them into the second year too.

    The NBA has developmental leagues for high school players not going to college.

    I don’t think Kyrie Irving from Duke is a sellout of any kind and he shouldn’t be the number 1 pick in the NBA. If he is, the college system still has to be fixed. He shouldn’t eligible for the NBA draft.

    John Wall didn’t survive his first year in the NBA without foot injuries. He played a full year of college basketball too.

    Good Luck to you Grant Hill, it’s fun reading your website. It’s too bad controversy brought me here.

  28. Ro says:

    Dear Sir,

    As a Langston Hughes middle schooler I looked up to you as a local hero. As a South Lakes high schooler I heard about you from all of the same GT and AP teachers that taught you and, later, me. In my adult years I could always say with pride that I grew up in the same community as “Grant Hill.” I am now eternally proud of this response from you. I came from a migrant family whereby my parents sacrificed everything for me to have a normal, middle class, upbringing. You have encapsulated, in this response, that even something so frequently (and at times trivially) quoted as the “American dream” is not without a collective sacrifice of those that came before us. My success does not, and should not, make me an anamoly but rather a product of a nurturing and accepting environment. Black, white, brown, red or yellow: I greatly appreciate your, and indeed your parents’, insistence on placing the human factor above all. Thank you!

  29. David C says:

    Well put sir. Clealy laid out that you both had differnt life experiences on the way to the same goal. If anything a great story for hard working black families and those who are hit hard by factors. Oviously if basketball didnt work for you in the end, other options existed with the skills your family taugh you. Mr Rose, without his basksetball career, with the lack of the blessings and hard work similar to your family, may have been the one taking out the trash after your games, or simply to bitter to even watch the sport. I hope you have many more healthy games and continue to advocate for “normal” families, even though that cultural push to the opposite is quite strong.

    You are a good man, Mr. Hill

  30. Spc Jeffery Williams says:

    I am a 28 yr old black man. I was a young boy durring ur glory days at Duke, so I was and always will be a fan of Duke basketball………..Coach K wrote me when i was recovering from an ied blast that left me paralyized from the chest down durrin my service in Iraq. I watched espn fab five show, I thought it was a great project. But and with a major but, If Jalen felt that away when he was younger, I can imagine or I can almost understand his feelin as a child, but he should have made it clear that , you are not selling out if u pursue a greater education, if you was bless with great parents, i never met my father until I was 21, and he wouldnt even show up at walter reed after i wasinjured, but Grant Hill father is proof, or evidence that a devoted father and mother makes the process of growin into a solid young adult , makes da road easier. we live in a society, where our hero’s are rappers becaz they glorfy da struggle, they make our young people , especially young men feel as the struggle, the i sold dope to put food on the table, the suffering we face , we almost use those as stripes, but truth be told Grant speaks of his grandfather who sent his dad to yale, used the struggle as a motivation tool to make his son life better, and his father dint pass a negative cycle down, he passed down a postive cycle in which Grant father past to him, I read your article Grant, I always have been a fan, but i am more of a fan tonight, not for your baskeball skills, but for you as a man……. My spelling is not of a duke graduate, my accomplishments in life or not as famous as yours, I only dreamed of the NBA, but in search for a better way i joined the military, happiness dont have to come in million dollars, it can can come in the sense of your granfather maken a sacrafice to send his son to Yale, so If I ever have a son, I wanna send him to Duke, because if he half the man Grant hill is , I will have done a pretty good job

  31. Dave Phillips says:

    As a white male who transitioned from childhood to manhood at the same time as you and the Fab Five, I would like to commend you for your thoughtful response and for the example you have set for all men, not just black men. As a father of 3, I am constantly preaching the importance of education and making a positive difference in the world to my kids. I hope that the reaction to this TV special will show the “Fab Five” that their impact on the world at that time was not just about them and their celebrity. They can use the audience they have to have a positive impact in the world they can affect – and if they have grown up like the rest of us, encourage people to also have a positive impact in their communities.

  32. [...] gibts noch Grant Hills Antwort (Lesebefehl!!!) zu den dämlichen Kommentaren von Jalen Rose, der Hill in einer Doku über die Fab [...]

  33. [...] King took issue with Hills’ claim, made in a longer version of the essay that Hill posted on his website, that when Hill played for the Pistons, he tried to talk GM Rick [...]

  34. reggie sears says:

    unfortunatly he and the rest of the fab five are the victums of there environment and have choose to gravitate back to it. i have met several people like your parents and thank god for people like them . at he very least he should be fired from his job. we don’t need anyone feeding fuel to our young black youths who have enough challanges to try to over come. By him apologizing prior to the release of the documentary just furthers his arragaint and then to put a spin on it that it was the way he thought while he was in high school just insults ones intellagence . i hope he gets enough money from his documentary to retire becasue i think his ESPN days are limited . but i will not watch it ! God bless you and your family .

  35. Scott Taper says:

    I thought the references made by Jalen Rose to the Duke players were completely unnecessary, and further explanation was required. It was their state of mind at that time toward Duke and resentment that they weren’t recruited by Duke. Rose might have been an honor student but that is not relevant if you haven’t the coursework or the SAT scores to match. On the other hand, Duke’s recruitment policy notwithstanding, It would appear to me that Duke would have been a much more nurturing environment than Michigan where such vitriolic hate mail came from its alums. But as the Fab Five goes, their mark on Michigan athletics and the revelations about its program demonstrates a willingness to exploit and not to nurture. Any school that acts to protect itself first before thinking of the athlete should be ashamed of itself. Why is it that violations always seem to appear AFTER the athlete has left the school after generating millions in revenue? One last thought: Grant Hill should recognize the tense of the documentary. It was their attitude then, not now. But he also helped its buzz quite a bit….

  36. kn says:

    I am a fan of the Fab Five and Michigan. And I am a fan of Grant Hill and everything you stand for. You are a great American, and African American. All the best in all that you do!

  37. Tetgren says:

    Blackness is dealt with as it’s a crime that can only be “gotten away with”. Plain & simple. And that’s gone global.

    I used to be emboldened by my privilege until I started teaching in Newark. The playing field has not been and still is not level. To disregard the truth that race plays a factor in that is irresponsible on anyone’s part. The model of the good son is not Theo Huxtable but Brandon Walsh. However, so long as Theo gets good grades (but not too good!) and causes less trouble than Brandon, he’ll get a pass.

    Yay for Mr. Hill. Yay for Jalen Rose! Yay for all of us who “made it”. We should be proud for “making it” at some of the top schools/establishments. Now let’s get over ourselves long enough to take a look at what we’re ALL really dealing with.

    Blackness (as is whiteness) is a construct. However, those trying to live by the standards of a Black construct are never allowed to dissect those dimensions. But it’s necessary now more than ever. We can’t look at post-racial without putting post-colonial in its proper context. I think we’re so afraid to offend other people’s sensibilities, we put it on each other by throwing out conservative buzzwords like “choice” “freedom” & “responsibility”. We all know deep down inside that’s hogwash. We all “make it” because there is a level of “passing” we HAVE to do, whether we can admit it or not. That’s how it’s constructed. Maybe I see it clearly because I’m a 1st generation Black Haitian. But I see it. And it’s being exported – Everywhere.

    I’m not mad at Jalen Rose for sharing his perspective. It needs to be told. I don’t think he should be chastised for it. I’ve suffered from being Uncled Tommed & Oreoed before but I won’t blame the victim of those conditions for seeing me that way. I like so “totally” get why some folks could get mad.

    How is it that you don’t know, Mr. Hill?

  38. The Imperial says:

    Well said. I thought the same way about Duke players in my foolish youth (uncle Toms, sell outs). Now in my 30′s, as a father and business owner, I would be honored if my son got the chance to play at Duke. Thank God for maturity. Thank God for this article. Much respect to Grant Hill and his family!!

  39. Matt Waite says:

    Excellent artical ! I just don’t understand why people still want to celebrate the fab five. For one they cheated, all the games and the Big Ten Titles have been taken away. When I talk to my niece or nephew I have never pointed out the fab five as people they should model themselves after, on or off the court. I would say watch Joe Dumars , Grant Hill these are the people you want to be like.

    Good Luck

  40. John Crosby says:


    As a white American, I can only speak from the outside looking in about the great strides made by African Americans in this country. But as a member of your generation of Americans, I can say that you are a class act and a great communicator. Your message was very revealing about who you are, and I am even more respectful of you now than ever before.

    I was in college when you were finishing high school (William and Mary – a school that aspires to be a Duke on the court – though I think we hold our own in the classroom ;-) ). I watched you play and win championships as though I were a Dukie. I remember how I reacted to the Fab Five (like many white Americans, not in a good way). But the years have revealed to me how much they changed the way the game is played and how America appreciates talent. So I can also understand how Jalen felt at that time. He likely didnt mean to hurt anyone with his comments in the documentary.

    His mistake was choosing to say what he said when such comments are hurtful, no matter what he thinks now). The documentary was excellent. Unfortunately, this will now be what many of us remember about it, and that’s a shame.

    Best wishes for a great season and hoping you will return to the DC area when you leave the NBA.

    John Crosby
    Ashburn, VA

  41. Greg Smith says:

    Amen! This is the type of opinion writing that belongs on the pages of sports publications around the country. I don’t know why everybody’s situation has to be put into a neat little group and then be attached to a bigger group in order to create some type of meaning that has to transcend everybody else’s situations. If Duke is going to be resented by anybody, it should be by the rest of the top 25 because they are always good, not because of some perceived recruiting policy that has no basis in reality. Thank you for the candid and well-thought response. I have not seen the documentary, and now do not plan to knowing that the basis of it is to belittle a population of people whose parents worked hard, made a better life for their children, and in doing so provided them with an opportunity to have what they could not, and do do things that they could not. I am a parent and wish nothing more for my children than to have things I could never have, and to be able to do things that I could never have done. I hope you choose to continue writing, as you have a gift for honesty, and wish you and your family for the best of futures. Congratulations on your successes, as they were not given to you for free and I’m sure were not without person and professional sacrifices.

  42. Anna says:

    Classy, honest, humble response from a classy guy with a quiet self-confidence and nothing to prove. Seems as if Jalen Rose and the fab 5 have to resort to demeaning others in order to make themselves feel big. Interesting that for all their ‘success’, they never won a conference championship or NCAA championship! Thanks Grant for speaking the truth in a calm, confident, Christ-like manner!

  43. Thomas Page says:


    Although a life long Tarheel fan. I have always respected the Duke program and the work ethic that went into making it the standard of programs. Not only atlethic ability, but character.

    I have not seen the documentary of the “Fab Five” and may chose not to after what I have read.

    It is amazing to me that the “hype” of the group that never won any championship together is still going on!!!!

    Thanks for all the great court moments!!

  44. KayBee says:

    Wow, very profound and very well spoken! Awesome piece.

  45. Matt M says:

    Dear Mr. Hill,

    Thank you for writing that amazing piece. It was eloquant and beautifully written. Although I am not African American, I believe your words not only touch the lives of the African American community, but to America as a whole. I grew up in a family where my father was a foreigner, who unfortunately became too sick to work, and a mother who sacrificed herself to provide for my two siblings and I. Although we were never “rich” in material things, we were rich in values, faith and education, something that my parents instilled in us. Today, my siblings and I are all college graduates, and professionals. We would be lost without God and our parents. This notion that because your parents gave themselves for you, giving you the opportunity to become a great role model and more importantly, a family oriented man, makes you an “Uncle Tom”, saddens me. Although not used directly, this terminolgy and ideology is thought of by many people towards those who came from good families. I wish this wasn’t so.
    I feel for Mr. Rose. It’s amazing to see people overcome great struggle. I am currently involved in an Orphanage in Guatemala and have witnessed physical and sexual abused children become angels and light in this world. I aspire to be like them, and hope to give them something my parents gave me.

    I hope we can change the culture in America. We need to encourage family life and avoid these racial stereotypes. You are a great example of someone who wishes to do that. admire Mr. Rose for giving millions back to his community to provide education and a chance for those who need hope. This is a great start.

    Sorry for writing such a long reply. I was so impressed with your words that I wished to share my thoughts with you.


  46. Paul says:

    Grant I think you have made an error in your judgement of the comments after your opening paragraph. It was pathetic that Jalen would have an inferiority complex as it related to the guys at Duke but in no way is that jealousy a reflection on you or anyone else. It actually served as a mirror for Jalen. He is admitting as much. The bitch comment as an athlete is another word for soft. He thought you were a soft suburban kid, until you guys got out there and kicked their azzz. This is more about Jalen realizing that the cycle he endured had to be broken so that other kids wouldn’t have the same inferiority complex that he did. Often when people say or do hateful things the people who are in the crosshairs think it is about them when it really isn’t.

  47. Dion "Da Butcha" says:

    I am in awe of Grant Hill for his response and it takes my mind back to the headline of the slam magazine which introduced me to him. “Just like Mike, only better.” From a basketball point of view, that kindly is debatable but as a man, or more specifically, a much needed voice of reason and leadership from the very folks we adulate and elevate through our support, Mr. Hill has transcended sport in a most brave and powerful manner. At a younger age, I too would have been and in fact have been guilty of thinking of Mr. Hill in much the same manner and I apologize to God for that type of thinking. And thank Mr. Hill for so ably describing exactly how to be above it.

  48. Shyril says:

    That was an excellent article. The second to the last paragraph was absolutely awesome. I applaud Grant Hill and his parents. Excellent and well said.

  49. CHARLIE says:

    Really fantastic, well thought out response. I’ve always admired your play on the court, you are one of the greats, but it’s always refreshing to get a glimpse into the kind of person an athlete is off the court, especially when that window opens such a depth of character. Thanks for your openness and honesty. I watched the documentary and thought Jalen Rose’s comments were irresponsible at best, or at the very least in need of the present day Jalen Rose’s response to how he may have been feeling as a 17 year old young man. He just put it out there without any present day resolution. I work hard every day so that I can give my own children the same opportunities your parents worked so hard to afford you and Jalen’s mom worked so hard to afford him. There is nothing more admirable and nothing more truly unifying than the desire to see our children succeed, which is part of why his comments were so disappointing to me as an outside observer. I can understand where his resentment may have come from, but that is certainly not a reflection of you or your family or the experiences of other young men who have come through the Duke basketball program. Thanks again for your response and your candor, I think it needed to be said.

  50. Karen says:

    The one upside to this story I find is the national discussion on the idea of “blackness”. I am an elementary school teacher and a lifelong Duke fan. Every day I witness bright, talented, and creative black students that hide these qualities because their friends label them as “acting white”. It frustrates me because they are choosing to be less than themselves. It saddens me that these students are buying into a stereotype. They are not appreciating or grasping their full potential because of what another ten year old will say to them. This mentality has to change. I am hoping and praying that your response and the subsequent conversations that are taking place will be the first step in creating this change. Thank you for all you do to make this world a better place!

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