Allen Iverson was in no way responsible for the death of Kevin Johnson, a man who was shot after refusing to give up the Iverson jersey he was wearing in 2003. AI had no obligation to help out Johnson’s family in a time of mourning. That being said, the fact that Allen Iverson has offered to pay for Kevin Johnson’s entire funeral service shows a certain classiness of someone that I definitely consider to be a role-model.
One of sport’s central debates is whether or not athletes are supposed to be role-models. Charles Barkley is famous for saying, “I don’t believe professional athletes should be role models. I believe parents should be role models.” But then again, don’t we all want to “Be like Mike?” I feel that whether or not an athlete wants to be a role-model, he/she becomes one as his/her prominence rises within the ranks of that person’s sport. The implications come in the form of monetary value as well. If a player has a good image and is a good role-model, that athlete stands to make a lot more money when it comes to endorsements, and teams will most likely take that player over someone who is a risk factor.
The story of what AI has just done for the Johnson family and his community of Philadelphia makes me want to “Be Like Iverson” and it gives me the hope that someday I will be able to represent a player who is in touch with the world around him/her.