The story of Allen Iverson has more depth than most fans likely realize. Having been raised by a single mom, Iverson was forced to grow up fast. Many people in similar situations slip up along the way and become a statistic, that was not to happen with Allen Iverson.
Iverson grew up in Hampton Virginia, a rather simple town on the southeastern tip of the Virginia Peninsula. Ccoincidentally, Hampton is the same area where NFL star Michael Vick grew up. As a child, Iverson was a two sport superstar as he excelled in both basketball and football. Once he was forced to choose one or the other, Iverson went with basketball, and it sure seems like he made the right choice.
Iverson was a superstar the moment he joined the NBA, and his unique inner-city style soon became all the rage in American culture. After winning NBA Rookie of the Year in 1997, Iverson would go on to become a league MVP in 2001. Along the way, he would earn 11 All-Star Game appearances, four scoring titles, and six All-NBA selections, and in 2016, along with Shaquille O’Neal, Iverson was selected as the newest member of the NBA Hall of Fame.
Having said all that, this list is not about the career accomplishments of one of the all time greats, but rather this list is going to help take you a little deeper into the life of ‘The Answer.”
Here are 15 things you didn’t know about Allen Iverson.
15. Tom Brokaw Helped Save His Life
Long story short, 17-year-old Allen Iverson was part of a brawl in a bowing alley back in 1993. Iverson was a superstar high school athlete at the time, with interest from schools nationwide. It was alleged that Iverson struck a white woman during the brawl and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison with no prior criminal record. This is where Tom Brokaw got involved. Brokaw did not believe it was right for a minor with no prior criminal record to receive such a strong punishment.
The day after hearing about the punishment handed down, Brokaw featured the story on the national news, showing the injustice that had been displayed. With the help of Tom Brokaw and some other factors, the conviction was ultimately reversed. Iverson has said on many occasions that he will be forever grateful to Mr. Brokaw for highlighting his story for the nation to see.
14. His Mother Was Only 15 Years Old When He Was Born
Ann Iverson was only 15 years old when she gave birth to Allen Iverson. Allen was given his mother’s maiden name after his father ran out on them. Growing up with a mother so young was very much a struggle for Allen. After his teenage father ran out, Allen’s mother found a much better man to help support her and her son. That man was Michael Freeman, who would father Allen’s sisters. Michael and Ann got Allen into sports at an early age. Allen was drawn to football more than basketball as a youngster. His childhood was full of struggle, but his young mother was able to instill an incredible confidence in him. With sports taking up a lot of his idle time, and two strong-minded parents in the picture, Iverson was able to avoid many of the potential potholes that could have easily derailed his future. His success is a testament to his mother’s strength.
13. He Earned $154 Million In Salary Alone…And Still Went Broke
During his 17 seasons in the NBA, Iverson made a staggering $154 million, and that is only counting the money he earned from playing the game. Iverson reportedly made over $50 million more from his endorsement deals. Now, explain how someone with that much income is somehow able to find themselves bankrupt and broke with over a million dollars in debt?
There have been many stories of how this could have happened, including friends taking advantage of his generosity and failed business ventures, but regardless of how it happened, it is still unbelievable. Iverson was at one time the face of the NBA, and he was cashing in on that persona he had created in ways only Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant can relate. Luckily for Iverson, his deal with Reebok included a “rainy day fund” for him. The fund has $30 million. The only problem is that he can’t touch it until 2030!
12. He Was Popped For Speeding, With A Gun And Drugs In His Car
In 1997, Iverson was pulled over in his home state of Virginia. During the stop, the police officers also found a concealed weapon, and a small amount of marijuana in his possession. It was a sad and embarrassing incident for Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers. It was the summer after Iverson set the league on fire on his way to winning Rookie of the Year in 1996. The team had just hired a new coach and a new general manager during the offseason, and Iverson had thrown a wet blanket over all the excitement that had been building. Pat Croce was the team president at the time. He was quoted as saying, “I’m very upset right now. With all the changes that have taken place, all the hard work that’s been put in by this organization, I’m very disappointed by what has transpired.” Ultimately, Iverson came back and spoke loudest with his play on the court, as he usually did, and things were mostly forgotten about in Philly.
11. His Bodyguard Beat A Man And He Had To Pay
In 2005, Iverson and his crew went out to a nightclub in Washington D.C, and decided to get a booth in the VIP section. They actually wanted the entire VIP section to themselves, but there were already a couple of people in there. Jason Kane, Iverson’s bodyguard, went over to the man in the VIP and told him to leave. Unsurprisingly, the man refused. Kane proceeded to beat the man, even using a glass bottle. The man was taken to the hospital where he was treated for a concussion, a ruptured eardrum, a burst blood vessel in his eye, a torn rotator cuff, cuts and bruises, and emotional injuries.
The man sued Iverson for $20 million, which the jury did not grant, but they did award the man $10,000 for hospital bills, and another $250,000 for pain and suffering. Needless to say, Iverson no longer employed this bodyguard after this incident.
10. His Mother Got Him Into Georgetown
Iverson was 17 when he was put on trial over a brawl in a bowling alley. Iverson was charged with 15 years in prison. Ultimately the charges were reversed and Iverson was cleared, but the damages had been done. After the events, Iverson was left with just about nothing when it came to college scholarship offers. He was viewed as too much of a loose cannon to take on. His mother Ann went on a mission to find her son a place to get a higher education. She reached out to Georgetown head basketball coach John Thompson and he gave her a shot. Iverson would be given his shot with the Hoyas and he would not let them down.
Coach Thompson was reluctant at first, however, he was quoted as saying, “I never recruited Allen at all, they recruited me. I was a little reluctant in the beginning.” Iverson and Thompson would form an amazing bond and be lifelong friends, though, and Iverson has many times been quoted as saying “Coach Thompson saved my life.”
9. He Released A Rap Album
Iverson will obviously always be remembered for his amazing skills as a basketball player, but he also will be remembered by some as a rap artist. Iverson attempted to release a full length rap album in 2000. Iverson went by the name “Jewels” when he rapped, and his track “40 bars” was his first solo release. The song contained many sexist lines, as well as strong violent content, which permeated throughout his entire album and the NBA did not take kindly to the image Iverson was portraying. Commissioner David Stern said, “Whatever constitutional rights of free speech an individual may have, there is no constitutional right to participate in the NBA and I have the power… to disqualify players who engage in offensive conduct — including inappropriate speech. Allen Iverson has done a disservice to himself, the Philadelphia 76ers, his teammates, and perhaps all of the NBA.” The album was never officially released, but he did release a four-track album in 2010.
8. He Is Banned From Two Detroit Casinos
Iverson has never been a great loser, and he would often be hard for the media to to handle after a rough night or a tough loss. Iverson also enjoyed going to the casino, and we all know that the casino always wins. A couple of casinos in Detroit have had enough of the ill-tempered, sore loser Iverson. A casino official was quoted as saying, “He is a bad loser, and he loses a lot, often throwing his chips or cards at the dealer. He has been warned about improper behavior at the tables repeatedly. He is often loud and disruptive, according to witnesses, rude to dealers, other players and the wait staff…You know Iverson’s behavior has to be really bad for a casino to ban him. As much money has he spends and losses, and with the casinos all fighting bankruptcy, wow, he had to be a nightmare.”
There were also reports that Iverson’s bodyguards had been getting into fights at the casinos as well.
7. He Urinated In A Trash Can
We’ve just discussed how Iverson has a long history of bad behavior in casinos. He was banned from two Detroit area casinos and has been in debt to several other ones. He also played in Philadelphia for most of his career, and Atlantic City is not far from Philadelphia, so it would only be natural to have a story that takes place in AC right? Well, here you have it. During his time with the 76ers, Iverson would request the Bally’s in Atlantic City. He was reportedly banned from the AC Bally’s for walking away from the blackjack table and urinating in a nearby trash can. Iverson has been a part of some hysterical moments, but this one might top them all. I am sure with all the money Iverson would lose at those casinos that they could find a way to look past a little tinkle in the trash can. Apparently not.
6. A Drunk Iverson Lost A Game Of H.O.R.S.E. To Rapper Nelly
Now first, we should inform you that Nelly was a very talented athlete growing up. He was even invited to spring training with the St. Louis Cardinals once, but it is still a big deal to beat Allen Iverson in a game of H.O.R.S.E. Iverson and Nelly have long been friends, and the two have thrown many playful jabs at each other in the media over the years. In 2016, Iverson recounted the time he lost to Nelly in the game of H.O.R.S.E. He said, “Me and Nelly played H.O.R.S.E. He’s a friend of mine. I remember one night we went to Jermaine Dupri’s studio and I had been drinking before I got there. We went into the gym and he beat my a**. Then he went on 106 and Park and bragged about it. So the next time we played, I made sure that I came prepared.” The rest of the story involves Iverson filming a game of H.O.R.S.E. against Nelly, only that time, Iverson wiped him out.
5. He Was AP High School Player Of The Year In Basketball And Football His Junior Year
In 1993, Allen Iverson was a 17-year-old kid going to Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia. However, he was not just another student roaming the halls looking to make it through the tough high school years. Rather, he was the best football player in the nation, as well as the best basketball player in the nation. Iverson is arguably the greatest high school athlete of all-time. That season, Iverson averaged 32 points, eight assists, and six rebounds per game for the basketball team. Before the bowling alley incident, Iverson was being recruited by Notre Dame, among others, to be their quarterback. Iverson was the quarterback as well as the defensive back and kick/punt returner; basically, Iverson did it all as a high school athlete. He truly was a force with which to be reckoned and had the world of athletics at his feet from which to choose his path. Fortunately for the NBA, he chose basketball.
4. The “Practice” Rant Was Not So Much About Practice
We all have seen the classic rant by Iverson where he repeatedly says, “We talking about practice!? pPractice? not a game, not a game, practice?” It will go down as one of the greatest media sessions of all time, but what really happened there? Well, during his retirement speech, Iverson let everyone in on the real story. Iverson claims he was duped by the 76ers’ front office. He said he was told the media session was to discuss why he was not traded from the team. Iverson also revealed that on the morning of the press conference, his best friend had died, and he was in a very confused place mentally. It all makes sense now. Iverson was not simply a bratty athlete who didn’t want to go to practice; it was more him being surprised by the questions, combined with his grief and anger over losing his dearest friend. Many people will judge Iverson for the “Practice” rant, but those with deeper understanding will have compassion and understanding for Iverson.
3. He Was Charged With Assaulting A Woman, And Given 15 Years In Prison
I’ve hinted at this story several times throughout this list but here are the specific details. In 1993, a 17-year-old Iverson was at a local bowling alley with some friends when things got heated. Iverson’s crew was asked to quiet down several times, reports say. Ultimately, Iverson’s friends (all black) got into an altercation with a group youths similar in age (all white). Iverson, along with a couple of his friends, was arrested and charged with maiming by mob, a seldom charged crime that was designed to prevent lynching. Iverson was sentenced to 15 years in prison and it appeared his life was over. With the help of media outlets, particularly the aforementioned Tom Brokaw (see #15), a strong support system and a fair justice system, Iverson was able to get the charges reversed and found a way to turn the terrible events into a learning experience.
At the time, Iverson maintained his innocence, saying, “For me to be in a bowling alley where everybody in the whole place know who I am and be crackin’ people upside the head with chairs and think nothin’ gonna happen? That’s crazy! And what kind of a man would I be to hit a girl in the head with a damn chair? I rather have ’em say I hit a man with a chair, not no damn woman.” In the end, Iverson did serve four months in a correctional facility he did not belong in, but I am sure he will take the outcome he got compared to what it could have been.
2. In Eighth Grade He Moved In With His Football Coach
It is becoming more and more clear that Iverson did not live the typical childhood. He went from a 15-year-old mother, to having a step father as a role model, to living with his football coach. After failing the 8th grade, Iverson moved in with his football coach, Gary “Mo” Moore.
Iverson was held back due to his truancy issues, missing almost 70 days of school his first time in the 8th grade. When Mo found out about Iverson’s attendance, he gave him a stern talking to, and immediately become somewhat of a personal manager for Iverson. Moore is very grateful to have taken the job on, and having help guide the troubled, but talented young man. Moore said ” I never had a biological son, but I felt that sort of connection with him,” when speaking about the time he spent mentoring Iverson.
Allen learned a lot during his time with Moore, including what it meant to be a man, as well as realizing what a good life looks like. Iverson went from one of the worst housing situations, to a large single family house when he was taken in by Moore, Iverson said, “I went from the projects to a real house. It was a real change.”
1. He Grew Up With A White Best Friend
As a child in Hampton, Virginia, the majority of children in Iverson’s school were black children. At an early age, Iverson saw Jamie Rogers being picked on simply because he was different, as he was white. So, in classic Iverson form, he acted differently than most of his fellow school mates and became friends with Rogers, even protecting him from the bullies in school. In a documentary released about Iverson, Rogers reflected on his friendship with Iverson. “The first time I ever met Bubba Chuck [Iverson’s nickname], he asked me did I ever play football? And I told him I didn’t know anything about football. And he said, ‘Put the ball like this and just throw it!’ And I just threw a perfect spiral. He could teach anybody. He just wanted you to be good.”
Iverson is often portrayed in a negative light, and in my opinion, it is an unfair assessment almost every time. He has seemingly found a way to live with that unfairness. Hopefully having friends like Jamie helped him realize that he is a good person with a big heart, regardless of what the media writes about him.
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