I will be the first to admit that when it comes to people like Dennis Rodman, it is hard not to “judge a book by its cover.”
Don’t get me wrong, Rodman is one of the best who has ever played the game of basketball and arguably the greatest rebounders of all-time.
He has more rings than most legends of the past and his sacrificing hustle on the court kept me glued to the TV. I admired his overall game. He was all business on the court.
However, Rodman’s flamboyant foolery off the court attracted more attention. Whether it was posing nude, wearing a wedding dress, rocking piercings and tattoos all over his body, dyeing his hair like a package of Skittles, chasing down Madonna, reported bouts with drugs, or constant trouble with the law, this man stayed in the media for all the wrong reasons.
Rodman was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame and his emotional acceptance speech is one to be studied. He came out on stage again dressed in bizarre fashion but for that brief moment I believe everyone looked pass his outer shell.
“What you see here is more, just, an illusion that I love to just be–an individual that just loves to be colorful,” said Rodman. “I never had a father. My father left me when I was five years old. He has 47 kids in the Philippines and I’m the oldest one. He wrote a book about me in Chicago. He made a lot of money but he never came and said hello to me. But that didn’t stop me from persevering.”
He further stated, “I haven’t been a great father. I haven’t been a great husband…I can’t lie about that. I have one regret—I wish I was a better father.”
He went on in the speech to talk about his troubled relationship with his mother and his own personal selfishness. “I haven’t been a great son to you at all,” he said to his mother.
I remember reading his book “Bad As I Wanna Be.” It was an interesting and brutally honest read with a lot of substance. I gained more insight into why Rodman is the way he has been based upon things that happened to him in his past that he has never healed from. His acceptance speech added more.
What is my point? We’re all in that same boat in some form or fashion.
We may not dye our hair or wear piercings to mask our pain but some of us use religion, food, psychological defense mechanisms, TV, shopping, alcohol, the applause of crowds, hanging out and other things, hoping they will give us an emotional escape. However, what was done to us is still there deep within and its controlling how we react to things going on right now.
There are things in our lives that have been done to us, even from the time we were babies in our mother’s womb. Were you close to being aborted? Did your father abandon your mother when she was pregnant with you? Did a teacher say certain negative words to you that have become subconscious commands in your mind? Did you get cursed at a lot growing up? Were you molested? Raped? Do you mimic the ugly abusive behavior of someone in your family tree? The list is endless and we all need healing.
Rodman taught me that if you don’t judge a book by its cover you may gain understanding of what isbeing covered up by the cover.
I too grew up fatherless and I was blessed to find my deceased biological father’s family last year. In cultivating my relationship with my uncles it hasn’t been easy. Completing my book about the experience and sharing my experience with others has been a form of healing.
Just a month ago, I did something and one of my uncles said “Yep, you definitely Joe’s son. That’s how Joe would do us.” It gave me some insight into why I do certain things stemming from my childhood.
Am I excusing evil, wickedness, foolishness or the bad decisions we make in our lives? No because we all have to accept responsibility. However, don’t be so quick to judge. You just might learn something from an unlikely source.
Thank you Rodman.
(You’re welcome to follow Brother Jesse Muhammad on Twitter @BrotherJesse)