Allen Iverson was born in Hampton, Virginia and raised there and Newport News, Virginia.

Iverson had a rather difficult upbringing1 and in all of my research, I can’t find any mention of religion. My blind speculation is that religion was largely absent from his young life.

A couple of things indicate an affinity to the Christian tradition, like the photo on this website in which Iverson is sporting a large cross around his neck.

There was also a short exchange between Iverson and reporters during a charity event, where Iverson commented that his charity work wasn’t about publicity, but rather getting in good with the man upstairs:

When it’s time for me to get toward that gate, either He gonna say, ‘Come in,’ or He gonna say, ‘Turn around.’ And a camera won’t decide whether I get in or not.2

The reporters later asked Iverson if he though he would be going to heaven or hell, he said:

I’ve done a lot of good things in my life and done a lot of bad things in my life so I don’t know. I hope the good things outweigh the bad things. I’m damn sure I don’t want to go to hell.3

I’d say we’ve got a Christian believer on our hands, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to take it.

Politics of fame and talent

Iverson has been a politically divisive figure since before he became a wildly famous basketball All-Star. In high school, Iverson was caught in the middle of a mini-race war in his hometown of Newport News, in which he and his black friends got into a fight with a group of white kids at a bowling alley.

Iverson was charged with hitting a woman over the head with a chair, even though later examination of the evidence could prove no such thing. Nevertheless, he was found guilty and handed a five-year prison sentence. The public outcry in his community was so great that the governor of Virginia, Douglas Wilder (also a black man), pardoned Iverson after four months.

However, Gov. Wilder was accused of racism as well, that he was favoring a fellow black man, and his political career was nearly derailed.4 That race stuff is tricky.

In the modern era, it’s difficult to say where Iverson stands. For example, while he and president Obama have talked basketball together,5 Iverson doesn’t appear to have ever endorsed or supported Obama–or any other candidate for that matter.

He has been accused of being anti-gay, both in the lyrics of a rap single he meant to release, but didn’t because of the controversial lyrics, and because he once called an unruly fan a “faggot” at a basketball game.6

What does that make him? Tell us in the comments

  1. Allen Iverson – Biography. IMDb. []
  2. Praying Fields: Iverson and the Afterlife. Washington Post. []
  3. Praying Fields: Iverson and the Afterlife. Washington Post. []
  4. Allen Iverson – Biography. IMDb. []
  5. Obama and Iverson Talk Practice Sound Clip and Quote. Hark. []
  6. Anti-Gay Remarks by Athletes. Outsports. []