He has led a troubled life. He has been convicted of mob assault, which he doesnt even believe he did . He has gotten a full scholarship to Georgetown University. He left college in hopes of making the NBA (national basketball association) so he could pay for his sisters pricey medical condition. He won NBA 1996-1997 Rookie of the Year while playing for the Philadelphia 76ers. He is Allen Iverson. Iverson is a six-foot, 200-pound, gangster looking, hated, loved, and just plain rebellious person .
Because of his troubled past, how he looks out for others, and his current basketball stardom, Allen Iverson will continue to change the way we look at the professional athlete now and in the future.
The thing that defines Iverson in most sports experts minds is his troubled past. He was born in Hampton, Virginia to a mother who was only fifteen and without a boyfriend or husband . He had just his mother to support him and two sisters .
She had to work two or sometimes even three jobs at a time to make sure she could pay the water and electricity bills, which still were not always paid. Regardless of the financial troubles, she made sure that Iverson stayed out of gangs and always went to school. He had incredible athletic ability, and excelled in football. Originally, he refused to play basketball. Iverson considered it to be to soft for a tough guy like him. However, it didnt take long for him to fall in love with the game .
He attended Bethel High School where he was immediately placed on the varsity football and basketball teams. It seemed like every game went well when Iverson played in them. He led his two teams to two state championships in which he was voted MVP for both . However, in the summer of 1993, everything went from glorious and perfect to rock bottom.
On a boring summer night, Iverson and some African-American friends decided to go bowling in an alley that was in a predominately white neighborhood. He found that his group was the only blacks in the alley. Not really taking any notice of it, they just started playing. Eventually, his group got into a heated dispute with an equally sized group of white people. Then it turned physical. An all-out brawl erupted and many people were injured. Eventually police arrived and cleared the place out. Iverson as well as some other people there claim that he left the second punches were thrown. However, he was still forced to stand trial as an adult along with everyone else there . The entire lower Virginia area was outraged when he, along with three other men (all black), were charged with mob assault . He was sentenced to five years at a prison in the area. This led all newspapers in the area to rant on and on for weeks on end on the possibility of race being involved. The papers also wondered why Iverson was sent to jail despite the fact many witnesses claimed he left within seconds of the first punch. After five months, he was freed by the governer who reviewed the case. This is still the most famous and horrible incident in Iversons life, and it still plagues him to this day .
Another incident that occurred recently, although much less severe, is still damaging. In 1997, Iverson was riding in a car that included three of his close friends. It was pulled over for speeding, and then the police smelled marijuana. He removed all of them from the car and searched it. The officer discovered a marijuana cigarette, later found to belong to the driver, and a gun, which was Iversons. He did have a license for it, but not the proper permit. He just received probation and random drug tests (he has passed all six he has taken so far). Although this wasnt too terrible in itself, it brought the old mob story back up which Iverson just wanted to leave behind him .
On the other side of the coin, Iverson has been known for being extremely self-sacrificing and he often looks out for others ahead of himself. The prime example of this is why he entered the NBA early, sacrificing the final two years of his scholarship at Georgetown. One of his younger sisters, Ieasha, suffered from severe seizures, and needed constant special medical treatment. Although his mother always found a way to squeeze in the treatments, it usually left her next to broke. Iverson felt he owed it to his mother as much as his sister to try to get big money quick to support them. Also in need of support was the rest of his family as well as his one-year-old daughter, Tiaura. He announced on May 1, 1996, his intentions to apply for the NBA draft in July. Quickly after his announcement, he signed with David Falk, a sports agent, which made him unable to reverse his decision. However, he still planned to pursue his degree .
The third and most well known aspect of Allen Iversons life is his professional basketball stardom. He was selected number one by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1996-1997 NBA draft. He was instantly put into the starting point guard position and expected to contribute . Well, he did just that. In his first game he scored thirty points and ended a lot of doubt some of his critics had . However, as the season rolled on, so did the problems. Although he was explosive, a scoring machine, and exciting to watch, he was having problems as a team player. He was leading the league in turnovers per game by a large margin, and his assists (passing to a teammate who scores) were drastically lower than what was expected of a point guard. His amazing dunks and no-look passes were starting to wear thin with coaches and teammates. He needed something to cool him down. He decided he should start with the all-star game . Although he wasnt in the big game, he was a team captain in the all rookie game. Everyone expected him to come out shooting since this game didnt count for anything. But he surprised everyone by only scoring four points, but he had eight passes that led to scores for his teammates. This came as a wonderful gift to just about anyone who was a critic of Iversons. Although in the second half he reverted back to his scoring ways, he still managed to pass the ball. He finished the game with nineteen points and nine assists, which earned him the rookie game MVP award .
Despite his overall success in his first year in the league, he was still not treated like the other players. His baggy clothes and wild styles earned him the honor of being selected the worst dressed by various league figures. He was one of the three players to have cornrows (the other two, Rasheed Wallace and Latrell Sprewell, also suffer from the same dislikes as Iverson). Being only twenty at the time, he didnt understand why others wanted him to walk around in suits and ties .
In conclusion, Allen Iverson has had a major impact on just about every pro basketball fan in the world. Struggling through a difficult childhood, he managed to always rise to the occasion and make it through the difficult times. His younger sister owes him her life, and the rest of his family owes him almost as much since he started supporting them all on his own. And last but not least, the entire basketball world owes him for being such an electrifying player and keeping the rest of the NBA on its toes. He has and always will change the way we look at the professional athlete now and in the future.
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