Dennis Rodman Biography

Famous Basketball Players, Animal Rights Activist(1961–)
Dennis Rodman is considered one of professional basketball's all-time great rebounders. He helped lead the Detroit Pistons and later the Chicago Bulls to multiple titles.


Professional basketball player Dennis Rodman was born in Trenton, New Jersey, on May 13, 1961. A second-round draft pick in 1986 in the NBA draft, Rodman went on to become one of the league's dominant all-time rebounders. He helped lead the Detroit Pistons and later the Chicago Bulls to multiple championships. He was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2011.


Early Life

Dennis Keith Rodman was born on May 13, 1961 in Trenton, New Jersey. Rodman was the product of an unstable household. Early in his life, his father, Philander, abandoned his wife, Shirley and his young family, which included Dennis and his two young sisters.

After Philander left, Rodman's mother moved the family to Dallas where she struggled to keep her children fed and clothed by taking almost any odd job that came her way.

Curiously, Rodman didn't at first appear to be all that athletic or outward going. He was short for most of high school, just 5-6, and was cut from his high school football team and later quit the basketball team because he wasn't getting enough playing time. 

After graduating high school in 1979, Rodman's future appeared uncertain. He found work where he could, including a janitor position at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. In his off-time, though, he could be found at local basketball courts, where the now 6-7 player, was a force.

Through a family friend, Rodman's exploits soon caught the attention of the coaches at Cooke County Junior College in Gainesville, Texas, who offered Rodman the chance to attend the school. He accepted and to nobody's surprise, proved to be a dominant player for the program.

But Rodman couldn't keep up with the schoolwork and after a year, flunked out. Still, his play hadn't gone unnoticed, and he was soon invited to enroll at Southeastern Oklahoma State.

Rodman's on-the-court tenacity overwhelmed opponents, and during his three years at the school he averaged close to 26 points and 16 rebounds per game. In the 1986 NBA draft, the Detroit Pistons made the gangly but overly athletic 25-year-old Rodman a second round pick.

NBA Success

The marriage between the Pistons and Dennis Rodman was, for a number of years, a great one. Rodman's arrival helped usher in a new era in Pistons basketball. Led by head coach, Chuck Daly, whom Rodman came to adore, and point guard Isiah Thomas, Detroit became one of the elite teams in the NBA. The club won the championship in 1989 and again in 1990.

Rodman was a big reason why. A fierce defender and tenacious rebounder, Rodman was selected to the 1990 NBA All-Star team and tapped as defensive player of the year that same season. In 1992 he won the first of seven consecutive rebounding crowns.

In 1993, following the retirement of Daly, Rodman's relationship with the Pistons organization soured and he was traded to the San Antonio Spurs. Prior to the 1995-96 season, Rodman was traded again, this time to the Chicago Bulls, where he'd go on to team up with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen to win three consecutive NBA titles.

Following his tenure in Chicago, Rodman signed with the Los Angeles Lakers for a brief run late in the 1999 season. He concluded his playing career the following year with the Dallas Mavericks.

In all, Rodman would finish with five NBA championships, two All-Star appearances, and twice be named the league's top defensive player. In 2011, he was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

A Troubled Life

For all his success, however, trouble has never been all that far from Dennis Rodman's life. The same intensity Rodman brought to the court has at times thrown his non-basketball life off-kilter. In February 1993, Rodman was found asleep in a truck in a parking lot with a loaded gun, prompting worries that Rodman was suicidal. He denied that was the case.

Still, the sense that Rodman was unstable was something he seemed to embrace as part of his on-court persona. He racked up league fines for his physical play and, in 1997, paid a cameraman $200,000 to settle charges that Rodman had intentionally kicked him in the groin while going after a loose ball. He regularly dyed his hair and relished showcasing his off-court romances with celebrities like Madonna and Carmen Electra.

In recent years, Rodman's life has proved be no less turbulent. In April 2008 he was arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly hitting his wife at the time, at a hotel. Rodman pleaded no contest and a judge ordered him to complete 45 days of community service.

In June 2010, it was revealed that Rodman owed more than $300,000 in child support.

Off-Court Endeavors

In addition to his NBA career, Dennis Rodman also briefly took a stab at professional wrestling, participating in a few matches in the late 1990s. He also had his own series The Rodman World Tour around this time.

Rodman has become a reality television regular in recent years. He returned to Donald Trump's business competition The Apprentice in 2013 after appearing on an early season. Known for his wild lifestyle, Rodman attempted to clean up his act on Celebrity Rehab and Sober House in 2010.

The always unpredictable Rodman also tried his hand at diplomacy in February 2013. He traveled to North Korea for two days and met with the country's leader, Kim Jong-un. The two share a love of basketball, and Rodman watched a game with Kim during his visit.

When he returned from his trip, Rodman appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Rodman told Stephanopoulos that Kim was "awesome" and "so honest," despite his less-than-stellar record on human rights. The former pro basketball player also expressed in an interest in returning to North Korea to help faciliate peace between the United States and North Korea.

In the spring of 2013, Rodman posted a tweet asking Kim to release Kenneth Bae, an American who'd been sentenced in November 2012 to a 15-year prison term in North Korea. In December 2013, Rodman traveled to North Korea again. That January, Rodman, still in the country, said in an interview with CNN news anchor Chris Cuomo that "Kenneth Bae did one thing. If you understand—if you understand what Kenneth Bae did ...Do you understand what he did? In this country?" When urged by Cuomo to explain what exactly Bae had done (North Korean officials still hadn't released a reason or charges for holding Bae by this time), Rodman replied, "I would love to speak on this," but ultimately avoided the question, never providing a concrete explanation. The interview spurred public outrage against Rodman, whose comments suggested that Bae's punishment was valid.

Two days after the interview aired, Rodman offered a public apology for his comments. He also admitted that he'd been under a lot of stress and had been drinking at the time. "I want to first apologize to Kenneth Bae's family," Rodman said in a statement, according to CNN. "I want to apologize to my teammates and my management team. I also want to apologize to Chris Cuomo."

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