"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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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. Greg Wims says:

    Mr. Hill,

    I like to start by stating that I’m rarely moved enough by editorial to personally respond.I am a 50 year old black man. I was raised in the northeast(inner-city by two parents), went to college in South Carolina (first in my family) and now reside in Texas.
    As a huge college basketball fan, I have shared the sentiment of disdain for Duke by many African Americans, without giving a whole lot of thought as to why. Maybe it’s because I do not see many faces like mine when I look in to the Duke stands at the Cameron Crazies. But is that any different at any other major university? Just a couple of weeks ago while visiting my daughter, I attended two games at Arizona State and there may have been 30 black folks in the gym. How amazing that I don’t harbor the same feelings about that school as Duke (wow and it’s in progressive state of Arizona)? Shame on me.
    Though I thought “The Fab 5” was a pretty good documentary, calling other black men “bitches” wasn’t a good message and actually detracted from some of the good things those men accomplished. Clearly you could have entered into a “pissing contest” with Mr. Rose, but I applaud you for not doing so. Too often we are seen battling one another in public. Your noting the successes of your teammates and other Duke players since was on point. Our kids need to see this. Let’s glorify hard work, education, family and values. Success is measured many different ways, could be championships, job titles and money. Or it could be being good people and creating/maintaing your real legacy. Keep it going my brother (that is the definition of real “swag”).

    Regards
    Greg Wims

  2. SirBenniJ says:

    Well Done ! Esp the part about loosing a game against the Fab Five (including this one )

  3. Adam Cates says:

    Very well-written op-ed piece. I especially like the last line – “And, I am proud I never lost a game against the Fab Five.”

    Although I’m not a Duke fan, I have a lot of respect for the University, their players and especially coach K. You’ll never have to wonder about NCAA violations with him. He’s a stand-up guy who seems to always do the right thing and instills that same integrity in his players.

    It’s just too bad Duke will be going down to Texas in the sweet 16 this year :)

  4. Darnell says:

    Grant, your points are very well taken, however, I believe you are being very sensitive on the matter. I watched the program and it was clear to me that Rose and King were reflecting on what their respective thoughts were doing that time. Keep in mind, they were kids and I respect their candor as men to share their thoughts that, again, belong to another place and time with regard to their development as men.

    As eloquent as your words are, there is something mean-spirited tied to them and I’m sure it is not by mistake. That spirit is unmistakeable to me, as I have experienced it many times before. It is the spirit that middle-class blacks use when showing their superiority over us common folk.

    I attended college in the early 80′s and that was during a time when common blacks could afford to attend due to pell grants and things of that nature. I remember walking into an environment of mistrust, isolation and in some cases total predjudice. And that came from the middle-class blacks who believed kids like me did not belong in that environment, regardless of our academic backgrounds. There was a social caste in place that was by far more bigoted than anything I have every experienced coming from whites. So I get it, even if you don’t, why it was necessary for you to respond to the documentary they way that you did. And it’s unfortunate that for all of your education you don’t see the role that you are playing in a huge divide that will probably always exist in our culture, as black people.

  5. Justin from Cincinnati says:

    Grant,

    When I think of great African Americans, in sports particularly, you always make it to the top of my list along with Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Ken Griffey, Jr. and others, who have excelled in their craft with such grace that it warrants us to challenge and temper how we, individually, work in our own lives. You have been a tremendous ambassador of Duke, the NBA, and of hard-working families… not to mention that my wife and I love your wife’s music!

    However, I am a little disappointed in how you, coming from such a strong legacy of educated black people, seem not understand the context in which Jalen presented his case in his GROUNDBREAKING documentary. First, he was iterating the fact that he felt this way as a 17-year-old poor black kid from Detroit. I hope none of us are judged too harshly on how we felt as a teenager as we obviously had some growing up to do. Second, from a sociological and psychological standpoint, I’d like to think that you could understand the pathology that destitute blacks have in urban ghettos around the country – that the “Cosby family” image was not the typical experience of a black family in this country, and that it mostly aligned with the mainstream white culture. Am I saying it is right? Of course not! I am from a poor, single-parent household where I refuse to use the conditions of my childhood as an excuse; but I feel that my education (that was not hardly as prestigious as yours at Duke) has shown me that there are people who live that way. Finally, as far as Jimmy King calling you a bitch, it would be a real shame that you are offended after a successful pro career, family man, and entrepreneur, that you would be offended about how someone felt about you in the heat of competition when they were a freshman in college. The extent of my sports career culminated during my senior year in high school, and I heard much worse, and I’m sure you have playing in the NBA. I also find it very difficult to believe that someone who I mentioned earlier in this narrative as exhibited so much grace in fighting through the challenges in his life who resort to comments about giving your okay to keep Jimmy on the Pistons. Isn’t that doing the same thing?

    Despite the fact that I’m a tad bit disappointed in your response during this whole thing, I still feel the same way about you as I did on the morning of March 18. As our President has said before, this is a “teachable moment”, and I hope that in doing so, you’ll teach your children that a) there are people — black people — to may resent you for your success; b) that competition can bring out the best in someone… and sometimes the worst, and; c) understand that words can sometimes cut deeply, but it is our responsibility to dissect, analyze, then respond in a way that can create valuable dialogue and action, rather than destructive reactions that can further fume controversy and “drama”.

    Mad love to you, bro. Good luck in all of your future endeavors, and ask your wife to send us an autographed copy of her latest CD!

  6. Rod says:

    Grant Hill has always been a class act, as it is shown in this article. I felt the same way Jalen Rose felt about the Duke and the Celtics Basketball program, and like Jalen Rose said when he was 18 yrs old. Now I am grown MAN, and i respect the DUKE program and their players. I remember Bobby Hurley, Christian Laetneer, and the Hill boys. I also realized they were winners, and i always go for the under dog. The fab five documentary was good, and it brought back memories. They also stated, they thought Christian Laetner was over rated, until they play against him :)

  7. mcar11 says:

    I’ve admired your family since your father started playing for the Dallas Cowboys, and I continue to admire the journey you continue to lead us on. I hated Grant Hill the Duke player because he and his teammates always defeated my team but I would be thrilled and honored to have a human being like Grant Hill in some way associated with me and my family, if I could only be so lucky.

  8. Linwood Harper says:

    lppl;kMr. Hill,

    I respect and am profoundly impressed by the candidness of your op-ed piece.

    I am a 37 year old black male that grew up in hampton va. as a childhood friend of allen iverson. In my neighborhood, there was one kid in my circle that had a dad in the home. The rest of us never met him, awaited stories about him, saw him once, maybe twice,… every three years.Most of us then accepted the reality ….I would have to figure out manhood “on my own”.A village can raise a child…. but a boy needs his daddy…EVERY day. I applaud your parents Mr. Hill for staying together through an NFL career and providing you with the emotional, educational, and financial support that has made you the man you are today.

    My problem with your piece mr. hill is that you were a bit heavy handed (about the fab 5) and demonized the comments as if they were being said in an interview about you. this was a documentary about 5 young brothers that ignited a great deal of confidence and positivity for young black men especially. There comments had a clear time and place. You did not need a documentary to know what certain people felt about you Grant. We are around the same age and I can say I heard those words about you then and I hear them now at my barbershop from time to time.The point is this. Many of us are ignorant about the work and sacrifice that comes with being”well off”. Sometimes however , it is forgotten the amount of sorrow,resentment,and desire to “be something” a fatherless childhood creates for black male. It is immeasurable. When Jalen spoke of his father not wanting anything to do with him….I felt that and I understood his comments about you and I think he articulated it better than any dude on the corner, or barbershop could have..Although his comments about his 19 year old mindset hurt you he spoke for those who come from fatherless childhoods. I appreciate his comments and again thank you for your contribution to our youth and society abroad.

  9. mcar11 says:

    Peace!

  10. UNC Alum says:

    As UNC fan/alum I’ve never been a fan of Duke :) , but I have always been a fan of Grant’s b/c he has always been a class act, both on and off the court. His response was thoughtful, moving, inspiring, timely. Kudos!

  11. Marco says:

    Jalen should have distanced himself from what they thought when they were 18 years old and full of hatred for Duke. He left that window open and I personally think it sent the wrong message.
    Great message Grant. Nobody needs to feel bad about sacrifices one’s family made to prosper and get educated (regardless of the race). We should all try that the next generation of each of our families is more educated, more successful and happier.
    great article
    Marco

  12. David M. says:

    Thank you for showing that being Black is not only defined

    by the poor example the Fab five have shown us. Their story

    could have been a great example of the American Dream, but it

    just shows us that we still have a long way to go. Grant

    your story is one that as Black men we should strive for, and be

    proud of. Thank you for raising the bar by being a great

    example.

    David

  13. Aaron says:

    When I first watched the Michigan Fab Five documentary, I was excited to see what I loved about the time period and how the basketball culture changed in such a short time. I was in H.S. at the time and was fascinated by the players and what they have accomplished at a young age. I wasn’t so happy about the outspoken way things were said about the Duke players and other African American players who came from two-parent families. I understood Jalen’s point of view but was disappointed about his comments.

    This was a good response to the Fab Five documentary. Well written and shows that anyone in search of the American Dream can achieve success without giving up ones culture and heritage.

    Hill’s example on and off the court would make anyone proud.

  14. Grant,

    Well said. It was pure poetry! Lessons and examples for all to learn from.

    Cool Springs

  15. Jr. Hester says:

    Grant, as a life long Duke fan (always willing to withstand the haters, and represent my Blue Devils)you put another layer of admiration I have not only for the University and Coach K but also for those who have come and played there. I watched the Fab Five documentary, and honestly, I loved it. I played one year of NAIA basketball, am currently 27, and grew up in the era of baggy shorts, swagger, and wearing black crews (lol I actually couldn’t tell you the last time I took a court without having black crew socks on.) Even though I grew up in Colorado Springs (no real ghetto by any means), I have friends who didn’t have the greatest resources growing up, and I went to a very diversified and middle class at best, high school, so I could relate to some of the things that Jalen and Rick and said. I myself am not black, my Mother is Korean, and my Father is White and American Indian, but despite not being African-American I still understand the struggle of being a minority, lol also being 5’8 and 150lbs out of high school I also can understand how it feels not to be recruited by certain colleges coming out of high school. Despite this, despite my appreciation for the documentary, I totally agree, the special put a certain stereotype to Duke and it’s black players. Now the realist in me says, for every stereotype, there is SOME truth, it’s obvious that Duke recruits upstanding kids, black, white, whatever race, but I do not believe it is in the business of recruiting only ‘Uncle Toms.’ When I think of Uncle Tom I think of someone who is subservient to whites over fellow black (for severe lack of better explainations.) Jalen probably hasn’t had more than a 10 minute conversation with 90% of black recuits from Duke, so how can he make this assumption? I digress though, I didn’t write this comment so that I could dissect the documentary, but rather thank you Grant, you are one of the reasons why I love Duke basketball so much yet have never set foot on campus. Going to Cameron is on my bucket list along with Coach K’s academy, but as a life long fan, stories like these are what will keep me supporting Duke and carrying my fanhood and these values to my friends and family. Thanks again Grant, and LET’S GO DUKE! REPEAT THIS YEAR! =)

  16. ann margrett velasco says:

    Bravo Grant Hill! I will be your forever fan!

  17. Mel says:

    Whew – this made me cry! I hate crying at binary code lol

    “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”

    Say it again! So many in the black community ask daily what makes a real man or real woman – they really don’t know. This is one of the best synopsis I’ve read in a long time. Not only does encapsulate the meaning of adulthood – it includes what it takes to be successful human being. Bravo!

  18. Nate Bellamy Jr. says:

    Dear Grant Hill:

    I appreciate and respect your response to Jalen Rose’s comments in his Fab5 documentary. I feel Jalen shouldn’t have to defend his comments about how he felt as an 18 year old youth, nor do you have to defend your upbringing and family. I just hope that both of you don’t fall for the old divide and conquer syndrome. You and Jalen are shinning examples of successful black men for young people to look up to and emulate. Lets come together to move our people and nation forward in a positive direction with love and brotherhood!

    Love and Peace,
    Nate Bellamy, Jr.

  19. Steve Solferino says:

    Mr. Hill,

    Thank you for standing up for yourself and for every other African American that has the “courage” to strive for success despite the ignorant views of “true” blacks like Jalen Rose. Mr. Rose could have gotten away with his moronic and offensive comments in the documentary with the “I was only 18 at the time” defense if he didn’t have that conversatino with Skip Baylis on ESPN. That excahnge showed that these are STILL Mr. Rose’s views and unfortunately leaves me (a white male) with the view that those views are still held by too many African Americans.

    You are a credit to your race, the human race. Thank you for being the man you are.

  20. Kinger says:

    Dear Mr. Hill;

    In this one response you have represented yourself, your family, your teams, your country and your race with the utmost character and class.

    Thank you.

  21. Louis G. Harris M.D. says:

    I read the story and Grant Hill’s response,and it came close to bringing tears to my eyes.It’s stories like this that make me proud of my Duke background.I’ve admired coach K and the integrity of his program,and am angry to see him slandered in this fashion. Keep up the good work Mr. Hill. Lou Harris (Duke Med School 1944–1948)

  22. Juan says:

    STOP! Everybody breathe… We are missing the lesson in an attempt to make the point. I am the contemporary of Grant Hill and Jalen Rose at my 37, soon to be 38 years of age. I was in college in 1992 just some 30-40 miles from Durham, NC when Christian hit that game winning shot. Grant has always been a class individual. I think Jalen has become a man of achievement. The point is this, these men nearing 40 years of age were reflecting on thougts and feelings held by unworldly, bitter, and resentful teenagers about their circumstances in that time and space. “Uncle Tom” quite inflammatory, but it was a documentary, designed for ratings. Let’s move beyond the commentary and view the reasons these 18 year olds felt this way. Have the circumstances change,for other young men with similar backgrounds. Short answer, no. Maybe there is some more maturing left Mr. Rose and King. The Bayless interview should have been used to clarify the issue. It only served to sensationalize the breach, but did nothing to repair it.

  23. heath says:

    poignant and inspiring words for everyone. thanks.

  24. David says:

    Touching. As Terp fan, it almost. almost made me forget how evil Duke is.

  25. [...] Still, except for the part where Calvin and Janet Hill were left hanging out there, depicted as anything other than the model parents that they are, the documentary and Grant Hill’s response is part of a very necessary conversation, one which plays out in what I like to call Black World every hour of every single day in this country and has for the past 400 years. It sure as hell didn’t start with basketball players; it started with the resentment that field niggas had for house niggas, and there will be no sanitizing of the term here because the feelings were even more raw than the language. It’s a conversation most, though not all, white folks are unfamiliar with, one Spike Lee captured with both insight and humor in his movie “School Daze” including the differences between “good” and “bad” hair, and “talking” white. These are the primary elements of emotional and at times painful discussions that take place, sometimes between members of the same family, one set of children whose father bailed and the other set whose dad stayed and provided a life that in time led to an entirely different reality. If you get a chance to see “The Fab Five,” you’ll notice what I think was an eloquent and passionate recognition of the jealousy Rose felt for Hill. Rose who very carefully says he resented not having what Hill had, as opposed to resenting Hill. It’s a powerful moment. And perhaps in that expression Rose felt he had explained that he no longer holds the “Uncle Tom” feelings he did when he was 18. Regardless, “The Fab Five” is worth watching. And Hill’s op-ed piece for The Times is well worth reading … and since The Times did not publish the entire thing, you can read the uncut version right here. [...]

  26. GM says:

    Grant, unbelieable response to unfortunate comments and feelings that are still felt today in the away arenas by current Duke teams. You truly exemplify “being the best possible person you can be everyday and great things will happen”. The truly sad piece to our divided society is can you imagine the “fallout” if those comments came from a white man. Continue keeping that compass in your head aligned to the magnet in your heart.

  27. Sharla says:

    G.Hill, I have been a fan of Duke since I was interested in basketball (1990) I am an African American black woman who enjoyed bball and watching it since high school in the90′s. Owes raised in a two parent middle class family in Philly and my dad went to a black college (Lincoln Univ) and I went to Hampton Univ. It is ashe that we still have the mentality as black people to even think Uncle Toms even exist. I believe Jalen and the others did that for ratings and threw Duke players under the bus. You have responded excellently and responsively and I pray that they will never respond again with such “female actions “themselves describing their peers in such a low level of statements. They are money hungry and I hope everyone realize their actions are disturbing and wrong.

  28. Kevan says:

    GH, My brother is a cazed Duke fan, as I am a UNLV and Fab 5 from that era. From Memphis,TN so you know how I feel about Penny and all U of M players. I couldn’t stand Duke at all, but I respect all the players and coaches as a former TSSAA runner up from White Station High School 1994. King and jalen have the utmost respect for you and your career and I feel as if from their young years anyone is envious of people with 2 parents….rich or poor, that just doesn’t matter. I am proud of you and your career and my brother, Keno, would laugh in my face if he knew I put this on your site. P.S. YOu went to school with a cheerleader named Ashley Hudson. My brother Keno and I grew up with her. Congratulations on overcoming that ankle injury and try to get you an NBA ring before you retire.

  29. Chris Ransome, MBA says:

    Well said, poignant and truthful. While the documentary speaks to the difficulties during a moment in time, capturing the thoughts of young men coming from disparaging cultural backgrounds attempting to assimulate. I believe if you look closely at the editing captions you can better understand the pictions/comments as they were meant as a competitor/rival. However, in this day and age one should not let it be up to the public to be the jury to acertain from which paradigm you are speaking. There is the ability to control the final outcome/message.

    Continue to set an example for not only your own children but so many others in the world needing a role model to aspire towards. Your column was more than a rebutle, yet an example of the diversity that exist within our own race yet the responsibility was not left to the viewers/public you shouldered it and brought forth a different lens. A clear example of what makes our race as African-Americans so great. Ignorance is not within all.

    V/R
    Chris Ransome, MBA

  30. Jeri Wingo says:

    Grant,
    It is difficult to know that Jalen Rose said these hurtful things about you and not think less of him. It is so very sad.
    Kudos to you, your parents, and your great education that allowed you to form such an intelligent response.
    Much love and respect!

  31. Chris Lewis says:

    Grant,

    all I can say is that your class shows through your words as does your parents upbringing and your Duke education. I too believe that it is wiser to say something that leaves the world a better place and leave the negativity to the miserable of heart.

    I met you on a treadmill in Dallas (Four Seasons Hotel) and you were very courteous, and I thoroughly enjoyed the regularness of our conversation. I shook your hand and you mine-we parted ways. If that is reminding someone of Uncle Tom, then their ignorance shines through–it reminded me of a man with class and kindness enough to take a few minutes and let me understand the man behind the image. Both in my mind are impeccable. Keep going, and always “shoot the three”

  32. Roll Tide says:

    Well put Mr. Hill. You are a great human being. Keep ballin’ in the NBA.

  33. I’m very proud of both of these young men as we all should be.

  34. David says:

    I can understand why Jalen Rose lashed out like he did. He didn’t have it easy growing up at all. You are given parents. It’s obvious from the short film that, given a choice, he wouldn’t have wanted to grow up the way he was doomed to do. Inner-city Detroiters don’t get to go to Michigan for two minutes let alone two years. How many kids from Reston, Virginia are at UVa, Georgetown or Duke? A rack of them, that’s how many.

    He didn’t disparage Hill’s parents, either. He said that they were a great black family. A storybook couldn’t write it up better than that.

    It’s too bad that when college players see a pattern emerge in the media when they try to package one team as “good guys” and the other team as “bad guys,” normally the “good guys” embrace their role and breathe easy. The “bad guys” play the “us against the world/establishment” game and they embody their role as outsiders even more.

    If you walked up to the late John Hope Franklin and tried to cast him as heroic while running down Jalen Rose, he would probably tell you that reaching out your hand to compliment one black man just so you can ball up your other fist and bash another one probably isn’t a compliment at all. And when Duke’s players accept praise for being something above the game of basketball that everyone else plays while their opponents get to be cast as a villain? They, in a way, ALLOW media and fans to take cheap shots at their opponents in a lame mockery of scoring points in some sick sociological manifesto.

    Duke’s black players claim to have some sort of higher purpose? Great! Let’s have college basketball’s most visible team use that great Duke education to speak directly to media that play the “good vs. evil” game in personal terms. It would’ve been nice had Grant Hill and his teammates, black and white, done that back in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s, but it’s never too late to right a wrong.

  35. Mark Hubbard says:

    Spoken like an informed and (WELL) educated person, Bravo Mr Hill!
    I think an apology and gesture is in order.

  36. Grant,

    Yes!!! And good for you.

    Love your parents. I can easily envision you as my son.

    Both of our children attended Duke. We are all rabid fans, but that doesn’t cloud our objective view of the world… or of humanity.

    Thanks for taken a stand. And just keep doing what you are doing.

    Onwards, Richard

  37. Adam Aquilina says:

    I am a fan of Grant for reasons like this. He shows all of us Athletes can be more than good at sports. You have an amazing heart Grant. I even tattooed a quote you said years ago on my with a basketball and your name beside it. It says “My mindset is to try to help, it is as simple as that. ” I love you for who you, and you saying what you did in this article makes me believe in you even more. Thank you for everything you do.

  38. Chuck says:

    I think Grant may be overly-sensitive on this topic. He battled this perception in the NCAA, and during his earlier and even relatively-recent NBA career.

    First, Duke does pursue the polished A.A. athelete — and there is nothing wrong with that. How does the opinion of an 18 year old, some twenty years later in a documentary, elicit such harsh feelings unless you still smart from this prevailing notion? Recall, they were offering their perspectives as 18 year youths in a candid fashion. I remember how I felt at junctures past in my life: I too can share what I felt as well. It does not necessarily represent my views today. I like both Grant Hill and Jalen Rose, but I don’t understand Hill’s need to respond to a documentary on the Fab Five. I mean “Wow” man, we are all nearing 40 years old.

  39. CLB says:

    Grant, my brother your letter was eloquent. You effectively defended your university, friends and family. The nagging question is why? Was this a needed catharsis? The fact that you never lost to the Fab five is redundant. You have wonderful parents and your personal story is compelling and admirable. Did you assume that the “uncle Tom” reference was to imply that you did not deserve to be at Duke. Grant, I don’t get the response to a documentary that must be edited, where every statement won’t be explained or put into context. You are so intelligent, what compelled you to respond to allegations that were not made in the documentary.

    I am an admirer and a fan of yours so I am complete perplexed by the reaction.

  40. Nate Willis says:

    Thank you for speaking up for many of the black men who try to be better men and are faced with individuals who want to, in the words of Chris Broussard (ESPN First Take, 2011) “are derided” by other black men with negativity. I know you are not perfect, but you are a great example and role model of what a man/person should be about in life. Thank you Grant Hill for being a significant contribution to this storybook we call life through this experience and from you carrying yourself in a way that echoes your values, character, and morals of edification.

  41. G says:

    Jalen’s comments were offensive, unnecessary and insulting. Grant did what anyone would do which is to stick up for himself and his family – I only wish I could be so articulate.

    Bravo, Grant.

  42. Johnny Z says:

    Mr. Hill I applaud you for the potentially game-changing message you have sent to not only Jalen Rose but people of every way, shape, and form. Success sees no color but you need to work hard to get in. Well done Mr. Hill. Well done.

  43. Ryan says:

    Everything you write is true…

    Still doesn’t change anything.

  44. Mike D says:

    Such a great and intelligent response to those comments by Jalen and Jimmy. I applaud you for them.

  45. JD says:

    @Juan, I understand your point and agree that we should all “move beyond the commentary and view the reasons these 18 year olds felt this way,” which sounds great, until you listen to Mr.(and I use “Mr.” here loosely) Rose backtrack and try to explain himself. When doing this, it is obvious that he still feels the same way nearly 20 years later. Unfortunately, there will always be resentments towards the “privileged” and successful black men from two-parent homes. Whether it is for ratings or simply his honest feelings, the type of ignorance, jealousy and hypocrisy Mr. Rose has shown does nothing but continue driving a wedge between the men in the African American community. It makes me sad that there are young men out there looking towards Mr. Rose for guidance and influence. Fortunately though, there are men like Grant Hill that represent the type of people that we should all strive to be like. BIG props to Mr. Hill for being the human being that he is. The world needs more men like him.

  46. LaRuss says:

    Sounds like Grant Hill beat the Fab 5 yet again. Scoreboard!

  47. ann guise says:

    I have always admired you. Now that hhas soared with your honest and sensitive and courageous comments on Duke and race. I am fortunate to run a nonprofit or elementary students in North Philadelphia begun by that civil rights icon Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture).
    I look forward to sharing this with them/

  48. Leslie Maxie says:

    Dear Grant, Your parents are two of the most generous, selfless people I have encountered in my life. I feel privileged to call Calvin, mentor. As one of the blessed MANY who have benefited from their kindness and hospitality all I feel is sadness for Jalen. His jealousy of the life they have WORKED to create should be held up as example of what’s possible in our community–not ridiculed or demeaned. Sometimes no matter how much one gives, the recipient may never GET it. However, I feel confident this will not cause your family to waiver from its stance in the gap for young people all over this country. With admiration, Leslie

  49. Zaidi says:

    While nobody–especially a black man–wants to be called an uncle tom, Jalen Rose was young, dumb, and ignorant, at 17 years of age when he made the statement. I’ve met Grant Hill, and he’s too together a brother to let this one fester in his soul. He will understand and forgive

  50. Luc says:

    As a lifelong Michigan fan, I watched the Fab Five documentary with extreme pleasure. As a working professional, political moderate, and father, I found some of it distasteful. Mr. Hill’s response is eloquent and shows a maturity and class which can be a lesson for anyone. Congratulations for taking the high road and being a positive role model for having character which transcends sports.

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