Jalen Rose talks hoops with ex-teammate Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

My former teammate Mahmoud Abdul Rauf was almost unique in his ability to shoot off the dribble (yes, people compare him to Steph Curry). But he was driven not only by hunger and desire to be great, but by a physical condition that was misdiagnosed for much of his youth.

Growing up in Gulfport, Mississippi, Mahmoud struggled with poverty and showed signs that something was off.

“And [the doctor] ‘Well, he’s used to it,’ says my mother. They come and go.’ And
Then he prescribed these big orange pills that looked like they had jelly in them,” he told me on this week’s “Renaissance Man.”

His “habits” were first presented as blackouts. He struggled academically and socially at school.

“Trying to hide something that’s almost impossible to hide because … kids are brutal. They call you names,” he said. “I was always taught to be respectful and kind, but even more so when you have people who can see you. You have to make sure you’re the kindest you can be.

He still remembers the names and the teasing. Fortunately, he had a superpower that could block out the noise.

“But I think one of the things that I was blessed with to my advantage was that I was very good at sports.” A fan of Dr. J and Asia Thomas, he was drawn to hoops.

“It came naturally to me,” he said.

He was finally diagnosed in the 11th grade: it was Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological condition he described as: “Your body and your mind are on different wavelengths.” At that time, there were no athletes or celebrities to raise awareness. He later became that voice. But he understood that he had to change his mind about his disorder.

There is a great book by Malcolm Gladwell called ‘David and Goliath’ and it talks about how we perceive advantages and disadvantages. And what it boils down to is, it’s about perception,” Mahmood said. He recalled a scene from the movie “Ray” where Ray is being told by Charles that he is not disabled and will not be treated as such.

“So some of us, we buy into the labels …,” he said, instead, realizing that God would not give him a burden he could not bear.

“[God’s] It is not meant to demoralize you and dehumanise you,” he said. “[God’s] Trying to teach me something, trying to lift me up, you know? And so as a young guy, I started to see it that way.

Mahmoud Abdul Rauf #7 of the 3 Headed Monsters is seen moving the ball against the Triplets during a BIG3 Week 5 game on July 17, 2022 at the Comerica Center.
Abdul Rauf watches the ball move during a game in BIG3 Week 5 at Comerica Center on July 17, 2022.
Getty Images for BIG3

He eventually realized that his illness had given him an edge.

“I started to see that actually Tourette’s, yes it’s hard. Life is hard… [but it] It has elevated me in basketball and even as a person because it makes you more sensitive, compassionate and empathetic to what people go through,” he said.

In addition to becoming the face of the then-understood disease, he famously converted to Islam in 1991, which he says changed his life forever.

This change included changing his name from Chris Jackson to Mahmoud Abdul Rauf. He also became an outspoken voice for social justice causes, which, to put it mildly, was not always to his advantage. In March 1996, he led a silent protest during the national anthem. There were fines, suspensions and backlash. However, his life and legacy are now being re-examined in “The Stand,” a Showtime documentary premiering Feb. 3.

He said he was “grateful” for the film, which features interviews with Steve Kerr, Shaquille O’Neal, Mahershala Ali and yourself.

But my ex-partner, who was very disciplined, is not used to hoops or his voice. He’s still playing in Ice Cube’s Big 3 league at age 53 – something that hurts my joints. But Mahmood attributes his longevity, and many other positive things, to his faith.

“Islam has done all this for me and has also drawn me towards education.
I’m tougher. And stand for things,” he said.

Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconic Fab Five, which rocked the college world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA before turning into a media personality. Rose is an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up” and co-host of “Jaylen & Jacoby.” He executive produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book “Got to Give the People What They Want,” a Fashion tastemaker and co-founder of the Jaylen Rose Leadership Academy. , a public charter school in his hometown.

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