Some have suggested last week’s historic summit between North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump could never have happened without the help of Dennis Rodman, considering he has a personal relationship with both men. And while Rodman himself won’t take full credit for bringing the two world leaders together, he told Howard on Monday’s Stern Show he remains invested in bringing peace between the two countries.
“I just wanted to see what would come out of that meeting,” Dennis explained of why he traveled to Singapore to be there the day Trump and Kim Jong-un sat down. After years of suggesting such a meeting between the U.S. and North Korea should take place, Dennis was pleased to see it finally happen. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders even called Dennis to thank him for his support throughout Trump’s talks with Kim Jong-un, though Rodman admitted he at first had no idea who she was when he picked up the phone in the video (above).
Dennis has made multiple visits to North Korea since 2013 when he first traveled to the country usually off-limits to American citizens. He was initially invited to attend a basketball exhibition event and Rodman told Howard he wasn’t even aware he’d be meeting with Kim Jong-un until after he arrived. “I thought it was just another paid gig,” Dennis said. “I didn’t know I was gonna meet that guy.”
The Kim Jong-un that Rodman met and formed a friendship with sounds very different from the dictator most consider him to be. According to Dennis, accounts of Kim running a brutal regime rampant with human rights violations are false. He instead pins those atrocities on Kim’s father and grandfather who ruled North Korea before him. “He didn’t create this bullshit. He just inherited it,” Dennis told Howard.
Dennis didn’t hold back with those charges while visiting with Kim Jong-un, either. Rodman’s friend and business partner Christopher “Vo” Volo came into the Stern Show studio on Monday and remembered a toast Dennis gave during one of their visits to North Korea.
“[He said] … ‘Your father and grandfather did a lot of fucked up shit … but you’re trying to change things and that’s a great, great thing,’” Vo recalled with a laugh. He was hardly laughing during the actual speech, however, and admitted to Howard he was nervous what Kim’s reaction would be as his translator told him what was said about his family. Luckily, Kim stood up and applauded Dennis’s words, much to Vo’s relief.
Dennis and Vo also gave Howard details about staying with Kim Jong-un on his private island. Not only did they get to see the luxurious life the supreme leader enjoys, they also came face to face with the all-girl rock band he employs to entertain him, though it would seem they only play two songs: “Gonna Fly Now” (a.k.a. the theme from “Rocky”) and the theme song from the '80s TV show “Dallas.”
President Trump’s name has been mentioned as a contender to win the Nobel Peace Prize following his talks with Kim Jong-un and Dennis believes the honor would be well deserved. However, he’d like Trump, whom he first met as a contestant on “The Apprentice,” to do one thing should he win the award.
“If Trump wins, the one thing I want … give me a handshake and a hug. That’s all I want,” Dennis told Howard. “He can have the Nobel Peace Prize, just give me that.”
Even if Dennis did get credit for bringing Trump and Kim Jong-un together, he told Howard that still wouldn’t be his greatest accomplishment. He considers his five NBA championships and two Defensive Player of the Year awards to be a bigger feat and what he’s most proud of in his career. That he ever became a star athlete is still something Dennis has a hard time believing actually happened to him.
“I’ve had so many chances to fuck up … but somehow, someone had a hand on my shoulder,” Dennis told Howard.
Growing up in the projects of South Dallas, Dennis encountered criminal activity just about everywhere including his own home. He described seeing his mother surrounded by weapons and drugs like weed and cocaine on a regular basis as a means to make ends meet for their family. “I never fell into that trap. For some reason, I never fell into that,” Dennis said.
Instead, a sudden growth spurt in his late teens turned Dennis onto the sport of basketball which he played at the local courts, developing a name for himself as a true talent. While playing at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Dennis was named a three-time NAIA All-American.
It was an experience Dennis had off the court, though, that changed his life one summer while he was serving as an instructor at a youth basketball camp. An otherwise shy 11-year-old kid at the camp named Bryne (pronounced like Brian) took a shine to Dennis and the two became close. Dennis later learned Bryne’s reservedness was due to him accidentally killing his best friend in a hunting accident. When Bryne called home from camp to tell his parents about his new friend Dennis, they were relieved to hear he was becoming social again.
“He never mentioned I was black,” Dennis told Howard. Nor did Bryne mention his friend was a 6-foot-7 grown man. When his father came to collect Bryne from camp and was introduced to Dennis, he was stunned. Dennis then drove with them to the family’s Oklahoma farmhouse and met Bryne’s mom.
“We get out and we walk in the house and he introduces me to his mother,” Dennis recalled. “She probably had two heart attacks right there.”
Despite Bryne’s parents’ initial shock, they allowed Dennis to stay for dinner and even spend the night at their house. When Bryne’s mom entered her son’s room to see him sleeping next to Dennis, she started to cry but not tears of sadness or anger.
“I think she was happy because he actually opened up,” Dennis told Howard.
Having proven himself as someone special in Bryne life, Dennis was soon invited to live at the family farm. “That right there … gave me, literally, the drive to keep going,” Dennis explained. “I got all my work, the ethics, from that farm.”