The Evolution of Dennis “The Worm” Rodman

When thinking about basketball legends, it’s almost impossible not to mention Dennis Rodman. His defense skills are celebrated in NBA history, but his career on the court isn’t the only reason people remember him. The media focused more on Rodman’s outrageous lifestyle and wardrobe choices.

Dennis Rodman / Dennis Rodman / Dennis Rodman, Carmen Electra / Dennis Rodman.
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Between Rodman’s love life, colorful hairstyles, and his friendships with foreign dictators, he is an enigma. He was an influencer long before social media existed, but Rodman went through many hardships before he was in the public eye. He has had many head-turning moments. This is how Rodman came to march to the beat of his own drum.

Started From the Bottom

On May 13, 1961, Dennis Rodman was born in New Jersey to Shirley and Philander Rodman Jr. Shortly after his birth, Rodman’s father enlisted in the Air Force and was deployed to fight in Vietnam. Subsequently, his father abandoned the family and settled in the Philippines, leaving Shirley to care for Rodman.

A picture of Rodman during a basketball game.
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His mom had to work many odd jobs to support the family, up to four at the same time. Shirley moved Rodman and his two sisters, Debra and Kim, to the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. It was one of the most impoverished areas in the city, and they had nothing.

Fighting for His Mom’s Approval

As the only boy in his house, Rodman was quiet, awkward, and shy. He idolized his mom and wanted her approval more than anything. However, Shirley was more interested in Rodman’s sisters, who were considerably more talented than he was in basketball. The other kids laughed when Rodman tagged along.

A picture of Rodman as a young boy.
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Rodman did everything to get his mom’s attention. He would dress up in women’s clothes and pretend to be a girl so she would love him. Rodman thought his mom didn’t care about him because he was a boy. All he wanted was for Shirley to notice how hard he was trying.

Nobody Wanted Him on Their Team

Although he would later excel in the sport, Rodman’s shyness was detrimental to his ability to play any sport as a teenager. While attending South Oak Cliff High School, he spent most of the time on the bench during basketball games, and sometimes he didn’t play at all.

A picture of Rodman looking up at the basket during a basketball game.
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Rodman was only 5’6” at the time, which isn’t tall by most standards. Instead of basketball, he also tried out for the football team but wasn’t successful there either. Rodman later shared that he was devastated after being turned down several times. He started to feel defeated and jealous of his sisters.

On a Downward Spiral

After high school, Rodman started working as a janitor at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. He didn’t stay at the job long because there were allegations that he stole watches from a shop in the airport, resulting in Rodman spending a night in jail. Matters escalated when his mom kicked him out of the house.

A mugshot of Dennis Rodman.
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He tried to get other jobs, but nothing stuck. Rodman had no place to call home, leaving him lost and confused. He slept wherever he could, including friends’ houses, on the street, and in the back of a 7-11. Although his situation seemed hopeless, his luck (and height) were about to change.

Late Bloomer

While he might have been of average height as a teenager, Rodman had a late growth spurt that added an extra foot to his size, making him 6’6”. Once he was taller, he thought it would be silly not to try basketball again.

A portrait of Rodman.
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A family friend tipped off the head coach at Cooke County College in Gainesville, Texas. Rodman played for one semester before dropping out because of his failing grades. After his short stint in Gainesville, Rodman transferred to Southeastern Oklahoma State University, an NAIA school.

New Friends

Although it may have been challenging for Rodman to make friends in the past, he bonded with Byrne Rich while working at a summer youth basketball camp. Rich was also shy and withdrawn due to a hunting accident where he mistakenly shot and killed his best friend.

An image of Rodman during a basketball game.
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The two became close friends, so Rich invited Rodman to his home in Oklahoma. At first, Rich’s family was not happy about their friendship because Rodman was Black. However, they warmed up to him after seeing their son come out of his shell around Rodman.

The Team Needed Him

Rodman barely got off the bench during basketball games in high school, but his skills improved when he started playing for SOSU. During his time on the team, he was named an NAIA All-American for three seasons. Rodman was beginning to get attention from professional teams.

Larry Bird drives past Rodman at a basketball game.
Photo by Paul R. Benoit/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

He was invited to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a pre-draft camp for NBA hopefuls. He won MVP honors and caught the attention of the Detroit Pistons. During the 1986 NBA draft, the Pistons drafted Rodman as the third pick in the second round.

One of the “Bad Boys”

During his rookie season, Rodman was part of the rugged team under coach Chuck Daly. They were known as the “Bad Boys” for their hard-nosed approach to basketball. Rodman acclimated quickly, and the Pistons competed in the ’87 playoffs after winning 52 games.

A headshot of Dennis Rodman.
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The “Bad Boys” swept the Washington Bullets and beat the Atlanta Hawks but lost to their archrival, the Boston Celtics. During the game, Rodman feuded with Celtics guard Dennis Johnson and called Larry Bird overrated after the loss. He received harsh criticism, but it didn’t shake him.

First Time Down the Aisle

As Rodman’s career started to take off, he met Annie Bakes outside a club in 1987. A year later, the couple welcomed their daughter Alexis. Their relationship was on and off for five years before they decided to marry in 1991 in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

A picture of Rodman dressed as a bride.
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Infidelities and accusations of abuse flawed the relationship. According to a book Bakes later released about her relationship with Rodman, he forced her to have four abortions during their time together and gave her an STD. She ended up filing for divorce a year after the wedding.

Staying Focused on the Game

Many people doubted Rodman during his youth and early adult years, but he showed everyone what he was made of during the ’87-’88 season. During his second year with the Pistons, Rodman averaged 11.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, and he was a starting player.

An image of Rodman during a basketball game.
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The Pistons found themselves progressing to the finals, but Rodman made a mistake. He was called out for fouling Magic Johnson in Game Seven, resulting in the LA Lakers beating them. Rodman was benched for most of the following season as punishment.

Roster Changes Altered His Career

When Rodman joined the Pistons, Rick Mahorn was the defensive forward. However, he was drafted to another team in 1989, which left a void in the roster. The team feared that the loss of Mahorn would hurt the Pistons, but Rodman seamlessly took over the role.

A newspaper clipping of Rodman under “Simply The Best.”
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Averaging 8.8 points and 9.7 rebounds, Rodmans was awarded the best NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award for his impeccable performance. Despite Rodman having a sprained ankle in the finals, the Pistons still won the title. He proved himself to be a valuable member of the team.

Another Man Walked Out of His Life

Rodman had a spectacular season in 1991., he started 77 out of 82 games as small forward. He once again earned the Defensive Player of the Year Award, and things seemed to be going well for him. Unfortunately, that was far from the truth. He was struggling with his mental health.

A picture of Chuck Daly.
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Rodman’s life seemed to be crumbling around him when coach Chuck Daly resigned from the Pistons. Daly was a father figure to him, and he felt abandoned again. Rodman failed to show up for training camp after Daly left.

Hitting Rock Bottom

A depression settled over Rodman, and he struggled to overcome it. He said he was plagued with thoughts of ending his life. Rodman hit rock bottom in February 1993, when he was found asleep in his car with a gun in his hand.

A portrait of Dennis Rodman.
Photo by Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

The police found him after his friends called them to do a welfare check. Rodman had an epiphany when he woke up. Instead of killing himself, he would turn his life around and live the way he wanted. In a way, Rodman killed the person he didn’t want to be.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

There was nowhere to go but up for Rodman. He started to make a lot of changes, including switching teams. Although he had three years and $11.8 million remaining on his contract, Rodman demanded a trade. The Pistons traded him to the San Antonio Spurs.

A picture of Rodman playing for the San Antonio Spurs.
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Like many people going through significant life changes, Rodman switched up his style in a colorful way. He shaved and bleached his hair and started experimenting with bright colors. Rodman also used his new do to headbutt Stacey King and John Stockton, which excited the media.

Material Girl(friend)

Rodman had a flair for being in the headlines in tabloids and sports news alike. When it was revealed that the Queen of Pop was dating “The Worm,” the media couldn’t get enough of them. In 1994, Rodman and Madonna briefly dated for about two months.

A picture of Madonna performing on stage.
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Their relationship was so highly publicized because of their wild, unapologetic personas that people thought they dated for much longer. According to his book, although it was only a two-month romance, a lot went down between Rodman and Madonna. It started when he was dating another woman.

Demanding Diva

When Madonna and Rodman first got together, he was dating another woman named Kim, with whom he flew to Vegas. Madonna allegedly booked the room next to Rodman and Kim and asked him to choose between the two women. He chose Madonna.

A picture of Madonna / Rodman speaks to the media.
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At the time, Madonna was trying to get pregnant and asked Rodman to be the father. She reportedly locked him in the hotel room to achieve her goal. Rodman revealed in his book that she offered him $20 million to impregnate her. In the end, it didn’t work out, and they didn’t have a child.

Less Playing Time

When Rodman transformed his image, he not only changed his appearance, but he also became a challenging person to work with on and off the court. In 1994, he got into an argument with the Spurs’ administrators resulting in a three-game suspension.

A photo of Rodman during a game.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

He joined the team again in December after a second suspension. However, Rodman’s season was limited to 49 games after a motorcycle accident. Somehow, he still made 823 rebounds and took home his fourth-straight rebounding title. Unfortunately, Rodman was suspended once again in the playoffs.

Not a Bad Trade

Going into the 1995 season, the Spurs had enough of Rodman’s antics. They traded him to the Chicago Bulls for Will Perdue. It actually benefitted Rodman because he became teammates with Michael Jordan. His best friend, Jack Haley, also joined the Bulls.

An image of Rodman playing for the Bulls.
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There were whispers that Rodman was a risk to the team, but his 5.5 points and 14.9 rebounds per game put the murmurs to rest. It wasn’t hard for Rodman to embrace this change, but he wasn’t too happy about settling for number 91 because he had worn number 10 for all the years prior.

Aggressive Behavior

His performance for the Bulls was fantastic, but most of the media coverage focused on his short temper and aggressive behavior. After making the ’96 All-NBA Defense First Team with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, he headbutted a referee in New Jersey.

Coach Phil Jackson tries to hold Rodman back as he argues with an official.
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Rodman’s rage continued as he threw his jersey on the floor and destroyed a water cooler. It cost him a $20,000 fine and a six-game suspension. After claiming he was turning his life around three years earlier, Rodman’s behavior did not reflect a changed person.

Never Get in Rodman’s Way

During the following season, Rodman’s behavior didn’t cool down. When he tried to go for a rebound during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rodman tripped over cameraman Eugene Amos. While Rodman was distracted, Amos focused the camera on him, which made Rodman angry.

The media swamps Eugene Amos.
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Rodman kicked Amos in the groin as revenge. The cameraman was carried away on a stretcher, and the act cost Rodman $200,000 in a settlement and an 11-game suspension. He effectively lost $1 million, missing another three games to suspensions and 13 more due to knee problems.

Here Comes the Bride

Getting publicity has never been a challenge for Rodman. So, when he wrote his autobiography titled Bad as I Wanna Be in 1996, he wanted to get more media attention. He decided to pull the most bizarre publicity stunt of his career thus far.

Rodman signs his autobiography dressed as a bride.
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Howard Stern talked about someone marrying themselves, and Rodman loved the idea. As the ultimate act of self-love, Rodman married himself while wearing a wedding dress, veil, and wig. The stunt was successful, and his book was number one on the NYT Bestseller list for 20 weeks.

Possible New Love Interest

After publishing his book, Rodman got the media talking again when he hugged Toni Braxton on the MTV VMA red carpet. Fans believed they were romantically involved based on their body language. People were jealous that Rodman dated Braxton in her prime.

Toni Braxton and Rodman pose for the media.
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

However, the two never made any public statements regarding their possible relationship. When ESPN’s The Last Dance aired, Braxton took to Twitter to clarify that she and Rodman were just friends and were never romantically involved. Braxton admitted that she thought he was attractive back then.

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y

Regardless of what was happening in his personal life, Rodman always gave it his all on the court. Despite all the games he missed during the ’97 season, he made up for his shenanigans during the following season. In 1998, he won his seventh consecutive rebounding title.

An image of Rodman during a basketball game.
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The Bulls reached the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz, but Rodman gave everyone anxiety when he left his team before Game Four for a side project. However, he returned in time to play, and the Bulls won their third title in a row.

Branching Out

Rodman was always doing things that were out of left field, and this venture was no exception. Rodman dove into the world of professional wrestling; he signed up for the WCW, the main competitor of the WWE. It was a shock to fans when he announced it.

Hulk Hogan and Rodman pose together for the press.
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Before Game Four of the NBA Finals, Rodman wrestled Hulk Hogan. He risked getting an injury and was slapped with a $20,000 fine. However, that wasn’t even ten percent of what he made for the fight, and he was back in time to play the game.

More Than a Rumor

While some of his romances after his first marriage were rumors, Rodman’s relationship with Carmen Electra was definitely official. The relationship was riveting because they were willing to share the good, the bad, and the ugly with the world. Rodman and Electra were in every tabloid.

A picture of Carmen Electra and Rodman during a press conference.
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Electra was the hottest star in Hollywood, but her life started to spiral after her mom and sister passed away within weeks of each other. She met Rodman during a self-destructive period, and the couple got married within a few weeks.

Turbulent Times With Electra

Despite getting married, Rodman and Electra didn’t settle down. They continued to party all the time, and they were irresponsible and unruly. Nine days after the wedding, Rodman filed for an annulment claiming he wasn’t of sound mind when they married, but they reconciled.

A photo of Electra and Rodman in a romantic moment.
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Michael Jordan recalled dragging Rodman away from the room he shared with Electra to come to practice. Not everything was great between them, as they were both arrested in 1999 for domestic violence. Eventually, Electra filed for divorce, stating that being Rodman’s wife was an “occupational hazard.”

His Career Was on a Decline

Before the start of the 1998-‘99 season, the Bulls’ general manager decided to overhaul the team, resulting in the loss of head coach Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Scottie Pippen. Rodman was released from the Bulls in January 1999 and went to the LA Lakers.

A headshot of Dennis Rodman.
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Rodman only played 23 games with the Lakers and was released during the off-season. He then played for the Dallas Mavericks for a meager 12 games. Although he was back in his home state, he wasn’t enjoying basketball as much as he once had.

Special Treatment From the Boss

Rodman’s time with the Mavericks was far from the highlight of his career, but he had a successful experience. The owner of the team, Mark Cuban, was a fan of Rodman’s skill and style, stating he learned how to get publicity from Rodman.

A photo of Rodman with a towel on his head during a basketball game.
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Cuban took Rodman under his wing and allowed him to live in the guesthouse on his massive property. However, the admiration was not mutual: Rodman didn’t like Cuban much. But he knew it never hurt to be in the good graces of the team’s owner.

Stepping Away From Basketball

With his basketball career bleak, Rodman decided to explore his other interests. While wrestling was one of his passions, he also liked acting. In 1997, he starred In the movie Double Team with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mickey Rourke. It wasn’t his best work.

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Rodman are in a still from the film.
Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

The movie got poor ratings, and Rodman took home three Golden Raspberries for Worst New Star, Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screen Couple. He was so used to winning MVP and record-breaking awards, so this was something new for him.

A New Lady Friend

Like most of his previous relationships, Rodman met Michelle Moyer at a club in 1999. She had a daughter from a past relationship, but that didn’t bother Rodman. The two seemed to genuinely care about each other, and they dated for five years.

Rodman and Michelle Moyer attend an event.
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Two years after they started dating, Moyer had their son Dennis Jr. in 2001 and daughter Trinity in 2002. Their arrangement was unconventional as they didn’t live together even after the children were born. Most people speculated that this is why the relationship didn’t last.

Is Dennis Rodman Married?

On Rodman’s 42nd birthday, Rodman and Moyer got married in a civil ceremony in 2003. Moyer filed for divorce a year into their marriage, but Rodman refused to sign the papers. He wanted them to work things out, so they reconciled and worked on the relationship.

Rodman attends an event with his wife and kids.
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Unfortunately, Moyer couldn’t put up with Rodman after years of trying to stay together. When she filed for divorce again in 2012, she revealed that Rodman was often drunk around their children. This time the divorce went through, and he hasn’t married since.

An Unconventional Friendship

In a bizarre twist of events, Rodman visited North Korea in 2013 with a team of former NBA stars. They were there to play exhibition matches against a North Korean team for Kim Jong-un’s birthday. From their first encounter, Rodman and Jong-un hit it off.

A photo of a military parade in North Korea.
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After the visit, he tweeted to Jong-un to release American prisoner Kenneth Bae, and the North Korean leader obliged. Rodman has visited North Korea several times and earned Jong-un’s trust throughout the years, sparking rumors that he is working for the CIA.

Battling Alcoholism

Rodman has battled many demons in his life, but his struggle with alcoholism has been hard to kick. Not only did it ruin his marriage to Moyer, but his financial advisor also stated that Rodman’s addiction is the cause for his work and money troubles.

An image of Rodman during a party.
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In 2008, Rodman attempted to get his life together by going to rehab, but his sobriety didn’t last. His family and former coach Phil Jackson held an intervention a year later, and he has been in and out of treatment for years.

Not a Law-Abiding Citizen

Over the years, Rodman’s legal troubles started to pile up. After his divorce from Moyer, she took him to court for not paying $800,000 in child and spousal support. Then in 2016, he was charged with a hit-and-run, but that wasn’t his last trip to jail.

A picture of Rodman testifying in court.
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Apart from the numerous sexual assault allegations, Rodman was arrested for a DUI, theft, and misdemeanor battery. He once told Kevin Hart that he’d been jailed a hundred times. While we don’t know if that’s an exaggeration or not, he claims it’s true.

Reuniting With His Father

After years of being estranged from his father, Rodman took a trip to the Philippines in 2012 to rekindle their relationship. He discovered that his dad had been busy since he left their family when Rodman was a child. According to his father, Rodman has 26 to 28 siblings.

A picture of Dennis Rodman.
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While his father wanted to explain why he left, the visit was kept at pleasantries and handshakes. However, he knew his father was proud of him because Philander opened a burger restaurant in the Philippines with red, yellow, and green buns to honor his son’s colorful nature.

He Wasn’t Angry

During the 2012 visit to see his father, Rodman admitted that he wasn’t angry anymore. He said, “I don’t hate the guy that brought me into this world.” He concluded that life is too short to carry around that hatred.

Rodman poses for the press.
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Rodman’s relationship with his father wasn’t perfect after they reunited, but it gave them both a sense of closure. In July 2020, his father passed away from prostate cancer. Rodman was happy that he got to reconnect with his dad before he died.

He Hit His Girlfriend

In 2008, Rodman and Moyer were separated, but they were still legally married. However, that didn’t stop Rodman from dating someone else. He started seeing Gina Peterson, and the couple made headlines when Rodman was arrested for physical abuse for hitting her.

Rodman arrives at an event.
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The two had too much to drink and started arguing when things escalated. There were different accounts of the situation, but Rodman was ultimately sentenced to 45 days of cleaning the streets, a year of counseling, and three years of probation. They kept dating for a while after the incident.

His Basketball Career Officially Ended

After his short-lived time playing for the Mavericks, Rodman took a three-year hiatus from the sport. In 2003, he returned to the court to play for the Long Beach Jam, a minor league team. Rodman helped them with the ABA championship in their first season.

A picture of Rodman playing for the Mavericks.
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Allsport/Getty Images

Between 2004 and 2006, Rodman played for minor league teams in California, Mexico, and the UK. Rodman officially retired from the sport at the end of the 2006 season. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.

How Many Rings Does Dennis Rodman Have?

While his career floundered towards the end, Rodman left a mark on the world of basketball. In 14 NBA seasons, he played 911 games, scored 6,683 points, and grabbed 11,954 rebounds. Some say he was the best rebounding forward in NBA history.

A picture of Rodman on his birthday.
Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images

Rodman was the bizarre player prototype with his artificial hair colors, tattoos and body piercings, and tumultuous private life. He also won five NBA Championship rings and played with some of the greatest basketball players in history, like Michael Jordan. There is no denying that he has a grand legacy.

How Much Is Dennis Rodman Worth?

As of this year, Rodman is only worth $500,000. He earned $43 million from the NBA and other ventures like wrestling during his career. However, due to legal troubles and professional misconduct, Rodman lost a lot of money. He also liked to live a flashy lifestyle.

Rodman attends the Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis show.
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His financial advisor has said that Rodman’s struggle with alcoholism contributed to most of his financial problems. He also had to pay child and spousal support for his three kids and wives, which probably totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, he didn’t invest his money wisely.

The Last Dance

In 2020, ESPN released The Last Dance, a docu-series about the Chicago Bulls in their prime. The third episode was all about Rodman’s career and life. Regardless of his questionable life choices, he made a significant impact on the history of the Bulls.

A fan wears a Dennis Rodman mask.
Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Rodman reflected on his time playing with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in the episode. He also talked about his quest to find himself, which led him down a path that many people didn’t understand. However, he served his purpose on the court.

Rock Star Lifestyle

Many would say that Rodman lived a rock star life with his partying and drinking ways. However, he actually tried to dive into the world of music several times. On one occasion, he went to a Pearl Jam concert and jumped on stage to sing with them karaoke-style.

A photo of Rodman attending a party.
Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Then, in 2017, Mansionz, an alternative hip-hop duo, featured Rodman on their self-titled album. He can be heard on “Dennis Rodman” and “I’m Thinking About Horses.” ASAP Ferg also featured Rodman on a track named after him in 2020. He isn’t winning a Grammy anytime soon.

No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

There have been many headlines about Rodman in the past, and they haven’t given him the best image. After starring in a B-grade movie, he raised eyebrows with his 2005 television appearances. Then, Rodman got the media talking again when he posed naked for PETA’s Rather Go Naked campaign.

Rodman poses next to his poster.
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His list of escapades didn’t end there. Rodman went to Finland for a wife-carrying contest, but declining health stopped him from participating. He also wrote a second book titled I Should Be Dead by Now and posed in a coffin to promote it.

What Is Dennis Rodman Doing Now?

In the ‘90s and early 2000s, Rodman was the subject of every tabloid, but the world has since moved on. These days, Rodman keeps a lower profile. The 60-year-old isn’t dating anyone right now but was most recently linked to a woman named Trish Alexander.

A picture of Rodman during an event.
Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images

He currently resides in South Florida and promotes various products, including testosterone. Rodman frequently posts throwback pictures from his glory days on Instagram. His son Dennis Jr. has followed in his footsteps and plays basketball for Washington State, and his daughter Trinity is a pro soccer player.