I’ve mentioned before in some of my many many posts on my favorite player of all-time, Dennis Rodman, that his personal demons are not all that surprising considering his crazy, difficult and often tragic family life growing up. Slate’s Daniel Engber has a lengthy profile of Rodman’s father, Philander, that is well worth a read:
For several hours, and several beers, the long-lost son is all we talk about. Philander is a few inches shorter than Dennis and says he’s never played basketball. Still, he looks like he’s been genetically engineered to grab rebounds. His arms are like fruit-pickers: When he reaches out to say hello, it’s like I’m shaking hands with Mr. Fantastic.
“I didn’t leave Dennis; I left his mom,” Philander tells me. Either way, losing his son—and his son’s money—seems to have produced a deep wellspring of regret, and a single-minded determination to cash in. He gives me a self-published Tagalog-language phrasebook and signs the inside page: “To: Dan. From: Dennis Rodman’s father living in the Philippines.” Just below his signature, he adds a postscript: “Don’t forget: Leaves never fall too far from the trees that they fell from.”
Philander has moved on in other ways, though. Since the breakup of his first marriage, Dennis Rodman’s father in the Philippines has taken three more wives and produced another 28 children.
He’s eager to brag: Did I know that one of his kids is seven feet tall? That half a dozen have played professional basketball? When I test him on the kids’ names, though, Philander gets bashful. There are a lot of them. In the end we refer to a numbered list in the Rodman Family Calendar. Four children—Nos. 16, 17, 23, and 29—are also named Philander, and another four are named Phil or Philip. But my eye catches the name of a girl born here in Angeles on June 22, 1991, a week to the day after the explosions at Pinatubo. Pina Marie—that one he remembers. He named her after the volcano.