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Allen Iverson

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One of the most controversial Basketball players of all time, Allen Iverson is one of the most loved and hated figures in Basketball. Born Allen Ezail Iverson in Hampton, Virginia, he grew up very poor to a struggling mother and a father who deserted him. Growing up, he was very athletic, playing football and basketball throughout most of his education prior to college. Iverson began focusing on basketball at his mother's insistence, despite wanting to be a football player. He proved to be a talented basketball player. At Bethel High School in Newport News, he began his high school basketball career. He developed a reputation of talking a lot and being uncoachable. To say he had a rough childhood is quite an understatement. On one of his places of residence, he walked through knee-deep sewage daily. During one summer, he witnessed the death of almost ten of his closest friends. Iverson first came to the national spotlight in 1993 in a controversial incident surrounding violent events at a bowling alley in Newport News. While the events that happened there will never be fully known, the generally accepted story is that some white students got into an argument with Iverson and his friends. The first question surrounding the event is whether he started it or if the white kids started it. Also, the question surrounded whether or not he assaulted a white woman by hitting her over the head with a chair. The prosecution insisted that surveillance tapes undoubtedly showed Iverson was the culprit, but in reality the tapes showed nothing conclusive. Two factors did him in at his hearing; first of all, two white people said they saw him assault the girl. Secondly, the judge was from the very conservative southeast Virginia establishment and did not have any sympathy for Iverson, his background or his talent. Seeing that Iverson requested a bench trial, this was crucial to his case. To add fuel to the fire, Allen Iverson flew in for the weekend from a tournament to be in Virginia for his trial. This played into the prosecution's hands and also upset the judge, both of whom saw this as evidence that Iverson did not respect the law. He was sentenced to a 5 -year jail term. This case sparked a tremendous amount of national attention. The case caught the interest of Bill Cosby and Spike Lee, who would be a fan and advocate of Iverson for many years. People all around the Newport News area started a movement to free Allen Iverson. He spent only four months in jail. Governor Douglas Wilder pardoned him. This move all but ended his political career and sparked another controversy. Wilder was also black, and white voters in Virginia viewed this move in a very racist light. Iverson was viewed now in much of white America as essentially a convicted felon who was out of prison only because a black man was governor of his state. Iverson got out conditionally, however. He had to adhere to a curfew and could not play basketball until he got his high school diploma. He could not accept a scholarship to the University of Kentucky but did get a scholarship once he completed his high school education in a learning center. During this time, he received his nickname, the answer. He was called such because his friends said he was the answer to basketball's conformity so to speak, people that conformed to this family friendly image, such as Charles Barkley, Isiah Thomas and most importantly, Michael Jordan, who was a childhood hero of his. He accepted a scholarship to Georgetown where John Thompson coached him. Thompson became somewhat of a father figure to him, but he was hard to manage, and the two had a workable but very turbulent relationship. Iverson completed only two years of his education where he became the top NBA draft pick in 1996. He was drafted by the ailing Philadelphia 76ers in 1996. Iverson is immersed in hip-hop culture. This made him an incredibly controversial figure in basketball. His clothing looked more like a gangster rappers than it did Michael Jordan's. On the court he seemed to embody the gangster rapper's image. He had an arm covering on one arm when he played, and also was one of the first players to have cornrows; a hairstyle up until that time was popular in prison. To make matters worse, he had an incredibly "in your face" style, which did not sit well with older players like Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and others. Jordan said of him when Jordan's Bulls played Iverson's 76ers, that he had no respect for the game. Despite this, no one denied Iverson's talent. He could hustle the ball, could get around even the tallest players. He became known for his fast drives to the baskets and his ability to fake the ball in a move called the crossover. Spike Lee lost respect for him when he turned down his invitation to star in the film He Got Game. As a very pointed move, Lee cast former collegiate rival Ray Allen in the part. The Sixers found themselves suddenly a respectable team. They acquired a new coach, the unusual Larry Brown. As a player in the ABA almost twenty years ago, Brown was also a young outsider fighting the system. Larry Brown now was a button-down-suit-and-tie coach. The two did not get along well at first; in fact, their relationship at best was serviceable. Brown was always unhappy with Iverson for not showing up to practice. Iverson insisted his game was pure inspiration, and he had little need for practice. The two rarely saw eye to eye. He received a tremendous number of awards in his short career. He was named rookie of the year in 1997, and on more than one occasion, he was an All NBA First Team, NBA All Star, was an All Star MVP, and received perhaps what was his crowning achievement to date when he was NBA MVP in 2001. That year, Iverson led his team to the NBA finals, but had a rough ride against Kobe Bryant and 'Shaquille O'Neal (I)''s Lakers. They lost the championship in game five of the series. It was still quite an achievement because the Sixers had not been to the finals since Dr. J (Julius Erving) and Moses Malone led them to victory over the Lakers in 1983 in a 4-0 sweep. Iverson has over 20 tattoos. Each tattoo is a symbol of his life. One denotes the name of his group of friends he has known since childhood, Cru Thik, another who says the answer, another who is dedicated to his mom who is a strong presence as Sixers games, and many others. He married his high school sweetheart Tawanna Turner and they have two children.  See full bio on IMDb »

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