BUCKTOWN — There's a new roadside memorial in Chicago — but it's not for a crime victim.
It's for a knee injury victim.
The "PRAY-4-ROSE" makeshift memorial under the Kennedy Expy. at Fullerton Avenue is for fallen Bulls star Derrick Rose.
It features the Englewood native wearing a crown of thorns. There are three sets of knee pads, a basketball, get well soon letters, lighted religious votive candles and fresh roses entwined in a pair of crutches leaned against the concrete wall of the underpass.
It's near the same underpass where people claimed they saw an image of the Virgin Mary on a concrete wall in 2005.
The artists behind the D-Rose work said it's both a personal tribute to Rose and a tribute for the city, which has watched as Rose suffered serious knee injuries in each of the last three seasons.
"His whole story is almost a religious event — it's an impossible turn of events, and now he's going through this hard time," said David Beltran, 30, who created the work with fellow artist Brendan Carroll, 23, and pasted it up Sunday at noon.
Most of the original items at the memorial, the candles, knee pads and crutches were supplied by Beltran and Carroll, but visitors have been adding new elements over the past two days.
"We want people to keep adding to it and we want it to stay up until the playoffs," Beltran said.
The memorial, which also features a framed photo of Rose clutching his knee on the court, was a way to look at the Rose situation from another angle, according to the artists, who are both Bulls fans.
Beltran said he sees the incredibly mean comments on Bulls blogs and comment sections, and the artwork is meant to be both a lighthearted joke and a response to the criticism.
"There are Derrick Rose defenders and Derrick Rose antagonizers," he said. "[The tribute] is a middle ground, looking at it from a different angle."
The memorial has been growing since Sunday and has attracted fans of both Rose and art.
Twenty-three-year-old Jeff Kirschman drove 20 minutes out of his way Monday to pass his respects at the memorial.
Kirschman, who lives in Oak Park, said he was torn about the memorial as he is a huge Bulls fan.
"He's not dead," Kirschman said. "I understand the frustration, but it's not his fault."
Kirschman said he hopes the memorial is a joke and that he was offended by the crown of thorns on Rose's head.
"I guess it demonstrates that there is support," he said. "I think there's some humor to it."
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