Anderson Jersey Retired in Front of Packed House

Rodney Anderson, who was the victim of a random street shooting in 2000 that left him paralyzed from the waist down with limited arm movement, is one of the latest beneficiaries of ABC Television's hit show, <i>Extreme Makeover: Home Edition</i>.

Former Cal State Fullerton senior Rodney Anderson finally caught a break this week.

The former Titan basketball player, who was the victim of a random street shooting in 2000 that left him paralyzed from the waist down with limited arm movement, is one of the latest beneficiaries of ABC Television's hit show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. In a whirlwind seven days, a new home is being constructed for him and his family in Los Angeles, they are enjoying a week's vacation in the Bahamas and the University conducted a ceremony in Titan Gym on Wednesday night to retire his No. 4 jersey.

Above, posing after the ceremony are, from left: Rev. Carl Washington, Pres. Milton A. Gordon, junior forward Jamaal Brown, Athletics Director Brian Quinn, Vice President for Student Affairs Robert Palmer and men's basketball Coach Bob Burton.

The scheduled broadcast date is Feb. 13 or Jan. 30 for the Top Ten-rated show, which draws an average of 20 million viewers.

The ceremony was equal parts enthusiasm, nostalgia and emotion. President Milton A. Gordon told Rodney1s story while a large projection screen showed a montage of Rodney1s childhood, from infancy through action shots of him in his Titan uniform during his 1999-2000 freshman season. With former teammates Ike Harmon, Brandon Campbell and Kenroy Jarrett among the crowd of nearly 1,500, Rodney was hailed for his perseverance, ever-present smile and determination to graduate. The Rev. Carl Washington, a former California assemblyman, thanked Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the University and the crowd on behalf of the Anderson family. He also accepted Cal State Fullerton banners and blankets for the new home from Associated Students' president Phil Vasquez.

Junior forward Jamaal Brown stepped forward and removed his sweatsuit top and then his No. 4 jersey and presented it to Washington to hand to Rodney upon his return on the following Saturday. The climax of the evening came when a permanent replica of Anderson1s No. 4 jersey was unveiled near the rafters adjacent to those of former Titan greats Leon Wood, Bruce Bowen, Cedric Ceballos and Greg Bunch as well as women1s stars Nancy Dunkle and Eugenia Miller-Rycraw.

The successful event was the result of tremendous cooperation on only a few days' notice by many campus departments. Student Affairs helped rally a crowd. The CSUF Foundation provided free hot dogs and drinks. Athletics staged the event including preliminary entertainment in the form of photographer Matt Brown's photo essay from the 2004 College World Series and a performance by the five-time defending national champion Titan dance team.

Physical plant mounted the replica jersey. Public safety assisted with parking and security for the production company. Public Affairs coordinated publicity. Kinesiology and health science and recreation adjusted pre-finals class and activity schedules. Help also came from off-campus, most prominently Bruce Webster of Large Screen Displays in Santa Ana, which provided the projector and video screen.

Anderson's story will be retold by ABC. As if the shooting wasn't tragic enough, a year after that incident Rodney1s father was involved in a serious auto accident that led to the amputation of several toes. Financial problems mounted. A federal program promised more wheelchair accessibility to their early 20th century home, but then the contractor abandoned the project before its completion, leaving gaping holes.

Through it all, Rodney has shown remarkable courage and goodwill. After a year of hospitalization and physical therapy, he returned to school in Spring 2001. A bachelors degree in human services is only a semester away and then the plan is graduate school. Marriage to his longtime girlfriend, Monique Allen, also is in the near future.

Rodney played in 24 games before the near-fatal shooting. The former baseball and basketball star at L.A.'s Washington High School averaged about 3.5 points and the Titans were looking forward to seeing his tremendous athletic ability develop. Despite his misfortune, Rodney has been a regular spectator at Titan games over the past four years and even the current players who never knew him as a player have been touched and inspired.