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DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit announced a $100,000 gift from basketball legend Isiah Thomas, which will be used to name a classroom in memory of Thomas’ mother, Mary.
Thomas’ gift is the largest individual donation to the school to date.
JRLA is a tuition-free 9-12 college-prep public charter high school in Northwest Detroit. The Academy currently enrolls 120 ninth grade students, who will be followed by an additional freshman class each subsequent year.
“I’m trying to help get the project off the ground with some of my resources,” said Thomas, who played in Detroit for the Detroit Pistons for 13 seasons, where he won back-to-back world championships. “The more athletes can re-connect with their communities the better off we’ll all be. Some of us do a lot, and some of us don’t do enough.”
Thomas, voted one of the 50 Greatest Players in the history of the NBA, has spent his post-playing career as a basketball executive and coach. He is currently the head coach of Florida International University’s men’s basketball program.
“With this generous gift, Isiah is once again proving to Detroit that he is a leader,” said Jalen Rose, JRLA Founder and himself a 13-year NBA veteran. “Isiah has been a basketball idol of mine since childhood and he is now a mentor of mine in the field of education.. His support is a blessing and I appreciate his efforts to help push our vision forward to build future leaders by giving them the education and skills required to not only graduate from high school, but to earn a college degree and have a successful career.”
Thomas coached Rose when he played for the Indiana Pacers and was president of the New York Knicks when Rose played for the Knicks.
JRLA students receive a leadership-focused education and are engaged through individualized learning, prepared to excel on the ACT and challenged to achieve at the rigorous level necessary to earn a college degree by receiving extensive college exposure and course opportunities through a partnership with the University of Detroit Mercy.
JRLA is a recipient of a Michigan Future Schools initiative grant, which comes with the expectation that 85 percent of students graduate from high school, enroll in college, and earn a college degree. Using a grade 9-16 mentor model, the plan at JRLA is to exceed those standards.