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How Allen Iverson Taught Me to Work Hard and Be Myself

Why Allen Iverson was my childhood hero

The first person I ever remember looking up to was the so-called “gangster” Allen Iverson. It may have been because my middle name is Allen, or because he was “small” like I am, but the real reason was the heart and passion he played basketball with.

Allen Iverson’s background

He did not always love basketball. His first love was football and his coaches said he was the best high school football player of all time.

His mom got him into basketball, forcing him to attend practices.

During his senior year of high school, he leads his school to two state championships: football and basketball.

Shortly after his second state championship, his world came crashing down as he was sentenced to 3 years in prison after a bowling alley brawl.

Allen celebrating a win at Bethel High School

6 months into his sentence, he was found innocent, and one coach, John Thompson of Georgetown University, took a chance on him.

Allen took full advantage of this opportunity. In his first season he made the Big Ten all first team, and decided to enter the NBA draft.

He was picked first in the 1996 NBA draft, won rookie of the year, and went on to win the MVP trophy in 2001.

Allen Iverson accepting the 2001 NBA MVP trophy

My experience watching him

Growing up, I had the opportunity to watch Allen play Kobe and the Lakers at Staples Center 4 times.

He always hustled the hardest on the court, risking his body for the team, and was the most exciting player I’ve ever seen.

The way he attacked the basket regardless of his height was extraordinary, leaving it all on the court every night.

Allen stepping over Tyron Lou on his way to win game 1 at Staples Center in the 2001 NBA Finals

Why I looked up to Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson embodied everything I wanted to be. He did let his size or other people’s opinions of him get in his way. He worked hard, feared nothing, and gave his all to his craft. All traits I dreamed to grow into and will continue to work on for the rest of my life.

As I grew up and realized the NBA wasn’t in my future, but I took the lessons learned from Allen and applied them in my career in software development.

Keep your head down, be yourself, and work hard.

I’m so thankful I had Allen Iverson to look up to as a little guy. He showed me that size isn’t what matters, but the heart you put into whatever you do.

He showed me anything is possible as long as you work hard and take advantage of every chance you get.

I hope one day to shake his hand and thank him for being an inspiration and example in my life. Thank you for all you have done for me and so many other people out there.

Thank you for your service in the NBA and I hope you are enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

#SharedFromTwos ✌️

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