My two favorite athletes burst into the sports scene almost simultaneously five years ago. Derrick Rose had a 1.7% chance of being drafted in 2008 by the Bulls. That’s like a lightning strike’s chance of hitting his home city of Chicago.
Hope Solo arrived with an unquestionably inauspicious splash less than a year earlier. Her senseless benching in the 2007 Women’s World Cup semifinals, subsequent booting from the team, and the a media infamy that followed spoiled a world debut that had to wait until 2008 to be fully realized.
They are self professed introverts who live large (if sometimes reluctantly) in the spotlight. They are unquestionably once in a generation prodigies, enigmatic to a media that wants their athletes easily packaged like forever smiling Dwight Howard or “girl next door” Alex Morgan. Yet both succeeded even while unwavering from who they are. They’ve got that crazy, slightly unhinged intensity that all true superstars have concerning their craft and use their haters as motivation. They have their “true fans” and “haters”. Rose has his MVP-deniers. Recovery deniers.
Solo is a self-professed bookish loner who, while on the road, often chooses the company of a nonfiction bestseller over that of her teammates. “I’m trying to overcome those moments of being shy,” says Solo, who studied economics and speech communication at the University of Washington. “In front of the world, all of a sudden I’m a great athlete and I’m put into an environment with 25 other women and I’m expected to go to team meals, team functions… “I just want to stay in my hotel room, read my book. I enjoy that private time. And it doesn’t go over well on a team. But outspoken? I don’t want to say outspoken….”It can be a lonely world as a goalkeeper,” says Paul Rogers, who coaches the position for the women’s U.S. national team.” [READ MORE]
“I like living here,” he says (about his new flat). “They just try to make you comfortable. The people here, they are mostly from out of town; they don’t know who I am. That’s why I picked this place.” (It’s easy to understand why one would enjoy working in this building, too. When Rose orders two bottled waters for us during our chat, he hands the bellhop two $50 bills.) Presidents talk about how the White House begins to feel like a prison. Rose speaks the same way about the town that adores him. “It gets on my nerves that I just can’t go out,” he says. “It’s just boundaries now. People are like, ‘You can’t go here, you can’t go there, you got to let that person know where you’re going.’ It’s just weird. I’m never alone. Ever.” [READ MORE]
Recently they both went through major, near career ending injuries. Rose with his ACL and Solo with her destroyed shoulder. Their fall and rise back to the top is something to marvel at. Especially since both came from truly humble beginnings and through family, community, and willpower caught up to and then surpassed all others. Hopefully like Solo’s Golden Glove and gold medal performance Rose will also return from injury and claim his place in history.