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NBA star Rose says poverty to blame for Chicago gun crime

updated 12:01 PM EDT, Fri July 12, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chicago gun crime "starts out with poverty," says NBA star Derrick Rose
  • The 24-year-old grew up in the city's poor South Side but was protected by his family
  • Rose says he tries to be a role model through his sport
  • The former NBA MVP believes the reason to work hard is to help people

(CNN) -- NBA star Derrick Rose has spoken out about gun crime in his hometown of Chicago and identified poverty as its root cause.

The Chicago police department recorded 506 murders in 2012 -- with estimates that about 80 percent were gang related, while there have been 185 murders on record up until July 3rd this year.

"It all starts out from poverty," Rose, who grew up in the city's impoverished South Side district of Englewood, told CNN.

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"People are just surviving. People are just really trying to get out.

"If you look at the world we're living in today, everything's just getting faster. You want success faster, you want internet faster, and everything is getting faster, so of course, you being human, you want a lifestyle even faster.

"You see people being famous off YouTube; you think you could be that next person, so that creates havoc."

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Rose's family shielded him from trouble as a young boy, having recognized his burgeoning basketball talent.

After a stellar High School and college career as a point guard, Rose was the first pick for the Chicago Bulls in the 2008 NBA draft.

He went on to be named the NBA rookie of the year in 2009 -- an honor shared by former Bull Michael Jordan.

The 24-year-old Rose recognizes part of his responsibilities as a successful sportsman is to be a role model for the next generation growing up in difficult circumstances.

"I'm young, but for some reason, people tend to listen to me, especially the younger kids," Rose, who exudes a shy but friendly demeanor, continued.

"Just knowing where I grew up and what I had to go through to get where I'm at today. Being a role model, of course, that's what I try to do.

"I try to stay positive, just really trying to bring hope to my city, where of course, we're going through so much stuff with crime.

"I'm just trying to bring that positive energy back, bring that excitement back, so that we can get it back on the right track."

Presidential problem

President Barack Obama has also spoken with concern about the problems of gun crime and poverty in Chicago -- home to his private residence.

The problems were brought into sharp focus in January when 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was shot dead in Chicago just a week after taking part in the President's inauguration ceremony.

The death came as Obama's administration has been focused on reducing gun violence, especially the killing of children, after the December 14 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Pendleton was killed in Hyde Park neighborhood near Obama's Chicago home.

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A recent study by the Pew Research Center study found U.S. gun homicides have leveled out the past 20 years.

While political solutions can take a long time, Rose -- who is on the road promoting basketball and meeting his fans on a world tour of Europe and Asia as he recovers from knee surgery -- has been focusing on what he can do to help the situation in his home city.

"For me, all I could do is, like I said, stay positive, know that it's people watching me -- young kids looking up to me," Rose said.

"Just give them a reason to go out there and work hard and know that the reason they're working hard is to help people."

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