In March 2000, Rodney Anderson of South Central Los Angeles was on his way to the NBA and a degree in social work, thanks to a full basketball scholarship from California State University at Fullerton (CSUF). On a rare day off from practice, he came home to have dinner with his family. Afterwards, he went for a walk -- the last time he would do so. Gang members approached Rodney and shot him in the back, thinking he was a rival gang member, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, with little movement in his arms.
Since the accident, it has been a constant struggle for Rodney and his family. His mother, Martha, had to quit her job and his sister, Glenda, moved into the small, dilapidated house in order to care for Rodney, who is now 22 years old. A year to the day of Rodney's accident, his father, Joe, was involved in a car accident and had to have three toes amputated. During his recovery period, the family was in dire financial need.
With assistance from the state of California and former assemblyman Carl Washington, a contractor was hired to begin work on the Anderson home to make it wheelchair-accessible for Rodney. But the contractor never returned to complete the job and left were gaping holes where there should have been walls, leaving the house exposed to the elements and making it almost completely uninhabitable.
Rodney was restricted to two rooms in the house, which included the dining room that had been converted into his bedroom. The three-bedroom, one-bath house, which was built in 1911 and is 1424 sq. feet, was in such bad shape that the living room ceiling was on the verge of collapsing and the floorboards couldn't bear the weight of Rodney's wheelchair.
Last year, Rodney proposed to Monique Allen, his girlfriend for the past five years. Since Rodney's accident, they haven't been able to be alone much and they miss taking long walks on the beach.
Rodney is an honor student at CSUF and attends classes and basketball games in a wheelchair. While Rodney and his fiancee Monique, along with his parents, sister Glenda and her three children, Mellone, 19, Louis, 16 and 12-year-old Cordney, went on vacation to the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, CSUF held a special campus event where Rodney's basketball number was retired.