Technically, Wallace is a sweetheart too.
- I don't have a personal problem with Rasheed, and I know that he donated a
library to Kettering High School but wouldn't it have been wonderful if some
type of reading contest would have
been associated with his $115 gym shoe giveaway. In a city with a 47 percent
we must look for opportunities like this to get children to read more. Now
that would have been an article, 100 students receive free gym shoes for
reading a book, not a magazine but a book of their choice.
DETROIT -- The town-car driver waited patiently inside his vehicle with the
windshield wipers flapping back and forth in the rain as dusk settled in on
this near-west-side neighborhood.
The millionaire stood in the rain for 10 minutes with rain snapping into his
face, signing red-and-blue T-shirts for boys and girls who sang his name.
This wasn't part of the bargain for Rasheed Wallace. The deal was for him to
come to the Derrick Coleman-owned Synx Sneaker Studio, promote his new
Rasheed Wallace Air Force 1 gym shoe, talk to a few youngsters and then be driven
back home, where he would celebrate his son Nazir's fifth-grade graduation.
The rain and autograph session in a weed-choked alley was not part of the
bargain. It happened because kids waited in the rain to meet him and Wallace
felt an obligation to make their drenching wait worthwhile.
Besides, Wallace felt comfortable here. He played ball in alleys like this
where the bounce of the ball was rarely true and the rims were made of milk
crates or half-broken metal.
He wasn't selling $144 sneakers. He was selling himself.
"Sheed, can you sign this," young kids begged.
"Hang on," Wallace said. "I ain't going anywhere."
And he didn't.
"Y'all know I grew up in a neighborhood just like this," he said.
Two sides to life
Wallace sometimes lives a double life. There's one Sheed where his every move
on the basketball court is scrutinized. In that world his heart is
questioned. Does he really care about the Pistons? Winning? Why does he melt down so
It's a world where we see him melt down and run his mouth too much. He is
short with reporters and roars at referees.
"My mouth is my greatest weakness," he said. "And it is my greatest
On Tuesday, Wallace stepped inside his other world, the world of inner-city
Detroit. He's a frequent visitor here, but usually the cameras and microphones
are nowhere around.
People were not mad because he lost a series. They were happy for him because
he escaped the inner city and lives a life they can only dream of.
Dazeshawn Crim is an eighth-grade basketball player at Chandler Park Middle
School. He dreams of becoming the next Wallace. Crim already stands 6-foot-4
and has had his ups and downs. He already forgave Wallace and the Pistons for
"Hey, that happens to me sometimes, too," Crim said. "It is going to happen
sooner or later. I like him because of the way he plays. He gets mad
sometimes, but I do too. He is just a fun guy."
Gruff but generous
Yet in Sheed's main world his passion was questioned. He played terribly in
Game 6. Folks remember his meltdown last year in the final game against the
Cavaliers. It was a buildup of technical fouls and meltdowns that caused him to
"You know people say I got an attitude problem," Wallace told his audience,
which drew laughter. "People think that I am the same way off the court that I
am on the court. That's not true. On the court, I am at work. When you are
at work or at school, you don't want people bothering you. You're at work. You
got a job to do."
But he does not want people knowing much about good Sheed. I ran into a man
the other day who told me about all the wonderful things Wallace does in the
community. And his charity work comes with one small price.
Don't tell anybody.
He wants the world to see him as big and bad, sometimes unapproachable and
That's why he tries to keep things like his impromptu autograph session in an
inner-city alley under wraps. This is his human side. This is Rasheed
Wallace feeling comfortable in an environment where he got his start.
"Is that it?" he said as the final autograph was signed.
Moisture poured from his face as he slipped a Sharpie over his ear and under
his cap. He was cold and wet but felt good inside.
Wallace disappeared into the back of the black town car. A graduation party
Terry's Town You can reach Terry Foster at (313) 222-1494 or
_terry.foster@..._ (mailto:terry.foster@...) .
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