I doubt that you will read this, but maybe you will.
I can still remember the day my Mum took me to buy my first basketball jersey, 14 years ago (I was 11). It was a Sunday, we were in JD Sports and I had two options: a bright purple and gold Bryant jersey or a dark black Iverson 76ers jersey. At this point I had no idea who either of you were – being a kid in the UK it was always difficult to catch games – but I picked the Iverson jersey. As soon as I got home I can remember sitting at the computer waiting for Allen Iverson highlights to buffer (this was back when dial-up internet was ‘the thing’) and I never looked back. You played with a great ferociousness, you never took a play off and you weren’t scared of getting hit by anything or anyone. That captivated me. But the more I found out about you off of the court, the more fascinated I became.
You had a tough upbringing and at times a hard life but you made it through it and you’ve never changed – that’s what I love about you the most; you’re not perfect but you don’t pretend to be.
Now I should probably say that really we couldn’t be more different, I’m a white guy from a village in the UK (over 3600 miles from where you were born) I’d say I’ve had a pretty stable upbringing. But those difference didn’t limit the impact you had on me, I always wanted the latest Iverson jersey, I’d read everything and anything I could about you (I’d even order Slam off of American eBay), I’d make wallpapers and fan art (your MySpace – remember that?! – once used one as its background), I’d imitate your moves on the playground and your poster was (and still is) on my wall; it reads “I am what I am”. As a kid I just thought it was a cool poster, but as I’ve got older those words have meant more and more to me and now I live my life as me, I don’t try to be something I’m not, I don’t do something or wear something to ‘fit in’, I’m just me.
A photo posted by Daniel Shaw (@a_dshaw_thing) on
I recently watched a press conference in which you thanked your fans and that you want it to hurt when you’re no longer around and I want to tell you it will. We’ve never met, and probably never will, but that doesn’t change the fact I grew up wanting to be like AI.
Congratulations on your induction into the Hall of Fame; it’s well deserved.
All the best,