Dennis Rodman grew up without his father in the picture. This is unfortunately far too often with African-American families, also very prevalent in biographies of NBA players.
Rodman’s story is a bit more unique. His father legally changed his name to Philander and claimed he is the father of 29 children by 16 mothers. Dennis never met his father until, at age 42, he played a game in Manilla, the Philippines where he met his father for the first time (via Associated Press)
“Philander Rodman Jr., who has acknowledged fathering 29 children by 16 mothers, says he was happy and surprised that his son agreed to meet him late Wednesday. He tried to meet the basketball Hall of Famer during another game in Manila in 2006.
Philander, who has been living in the Philippines for nearly 50 years, said Thursday he wanted to explain to his son that he didn’t abandon his family in the United States, but they only had time for greetings and handshakes.”
Dennis grew up with his mom Shirley and two sisters, Debra and Kim. Out of the three kids, Dennis was least talented in basketball and felt his mother ignored his basketball career while he was young as his sisters showed more promise. Both of his sisters were All-American, and Debra won two national titles for Louisiana Tech.
In an interview with Howard Stern, Rodman mentioned he never felt he had a father. When Philander realized that Dennis was making money as a player with the Chicago Bulls, he flew to Chicago, only to realize his son was in LA.
This puts some perspective on Rodman and his attitude towards loyalty that was so important in his career. As we wrote earlier this year, that’s what bothered him most in San Antonio. After he contributed to David Robinsons MVP season and averaged almost 20 rebounds, Popovic traded him:
“Am I the same guy that helped David Robinson get the scoring title and MVP? Am I the same guy that averaged 19.3 rebounds for you? Am I the same guy we won 68 damn games (with)? Am I that same guy there, but you guys don’t like me. OK, trade me. Of course, they traded me to the damn Bulls.”Dennis Rodman
For a man who married himself, had over 70 noise complaints in 8 years and forgot his wife’s name at a certain point, this does come as a partial explanation of his eccentricity. In the old days, they would just say “I guess it runs in the family.”