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
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.