1. He overcame a tumultuous childhood growing up in Hampton, Virginia to become a star athlete in high school.
He led the Bethel High School basketball team to a state title in 1993.
2. He also led his high school to a state football title. No big deal.
3. However, his athletic career seemed done when he received a fifteen-year prison sentence for allegedly hitting a woman with a chair in a brawl.
His trial, which was the subject of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary No Crossover, was very controversial; many felt Iverson had been singled out without enough evidence. After serving four months in prison, Iverson was granted clemency by Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder.
4. Georgetown gave Iverson a second chance. He became a college star.
5. He went first overall in the 1996 NBA Draft and made basketball relevant again in Philadelphia.
6. Because before he came along, this was the Sixers’ franchise player.
8. Everything about him seemed magical. Like those cornrows…
9. …or that arm sleeve that seemed to give him super powers.
10. He made scoring look totally effortless, leading the NBA in points per game three times.
11. He never won an NBA title, but this cherished moment was a nice consolation prize.
14. He was one of the smallest superstars to ever play in the league.
15. But what he lacked in size he made up for in toughness, leading the league in minutes per game SEVEN times.
16. And, despite his stature, dunking was no problem.
18. He wasn’t afraid to criticize the NBA’s half-assed efforts to improve its image and marketability.
19. He totally predicted the LeBron backlash back in 2006.
21. And while he slowed down with age, he at least grew craftier.
22. Even as recently as last year he was still breaking ankles overseas.
The jumper needed work, though…
23. Regardless of his flaws, he will always be one of the most beloved athletes in Philadelphia sports history.
24. The NBA just isn’t the same without you, A.I.
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