Column: The answer is that only the strong survive

Josh Saxton, Photo Editor

Every child has someone to look up to.  For most kids, heroes come with cape, tights and real superpowers.

My hero experience was different. My hero didn’t have super strength, super speed or a secret cave, or any of those things, but he wore a costume with the No. 3 on the front of it.

He wore his hair in braids and covered himself in tattoos. At 6-foot-1, he dominated a game played by giants and gave his all every second on the court.

Despite many hardships he may have faced off the court, he always went out on the floor and gave it all he had.

As a child, watching him perform heroic acts was a level of excitement I hope everyone can grow to experience.

But, it wasn’t until much after his retirement from the game and that electric feeling went away that I realized what Allen Iverson really meant to me, and how I continue to navigate through my own life using Iverson as an example of staying true to oneself in the face of adversity.

Whether that adversity is physically manifested or purely mentally and emotionally driven, one must push through it to get to a better place or situation.

Iverson’s basketball career was almost completely derailed before it ever had a chance to take off.

While in high school, he was allegedly involved in a bowling alley brawl that left several people injured, and he was found guilty of the crime despite a lack of hard evidence.

Despite spending time in jail, he was able to go on and play basketball at Georgetown and have a successful NBA career.

Today, Iverson is revered as a sensational scorer and fierce competitor, and despite his hardships and shortcomings in the league, he managed to rise above it all and become the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2001.

I look at Iverson’s career with all the bumps that it took to get where he is today.

The NBA implemented a dress code (which is still in place) because they felt Iverson’s image, wasn’t professional or friendly, and quite frankly promoted a style of music and a culture that some don’t agree with or necessarily understood.

However, he stayed true to himself, and if that meant he wasn’t in a suit on the sideline then so be it.

He showed up to every game in his own skin unapologetically.

He sat on the sidelines with the same confidence he took into every contest.

I believe students could benefit from Iverson’s story because it closely reflects our own as students, most of which are trying to find our way.

Whether it’s making sense of our purpose on campus or just trying to remain whole and maintain ourselves during the rat race.

Iverson was facing up to 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

He had to hit the absolute bottom, and in the end, he rose from the ashes like a phoenix. Allen Iverson taught me: Don’t apologize for being yourself, no matter what they throw at you. You can conquer it and only the strong survive, so be strong and fight for everything you want.

Josh Saxton is a junior journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].