Last weekend Allen Iverson was scheduled to start in his 11th NBA All Star game, but the Philadelphia 76er was notably absent from the festivities. Instead, Allen was at home in Atlanta, tending to his seriously ill daughter Messiah, 4.
“I have five kids,” Allen, 34, pointed out after practice in Philadelphia on Monday. “None of them have ever been this sick. It’s a first-time thing for me.”
Adding to his anxiety is the fact that doctors aren’t totally sure about what ails Messiah. She has been in and out of a hospital in Atlanta and will now travel to Philadelphia to undergo treatment at Children’s Hospital.
“If they find out its pneumonia, which they hope it’s not, they’re going to have to admit her again,” Allen reveals. “All I do is just pray on it … ’cause that’s all that can be done right now, ’cause they don’t know exactly what’s wrong with her.”
“I like to look at myself as a strong person, especially dealing with everything in my life. But this is a totally different situation; you find out you’re not as tough as you thought you were when it’s one of your kids.”
Doctors have assured Allen that they’ll “get to the bottom of” Messiah’s symptoms, assurances that have given the point guard peace of mind — to a point. “You look at them eye to eye and you can tell they truly believe that,” he says. “You kind of feel comfortable about it.”
Enough so that Allen has agreed to rejoin his team, after missing five games to be with Messiah. Noting that he has “a commitment and an obligation to be with” the 76ers, Allen says he’s hoping his return to the court will help him stay focused at home.
“I think this is the only thing I do in life where it’s for a couple hours during a game [that] I don’t think about [anything] but that,” he muses. “I think, in some type of way, that will help me deal with my [family] situation a little better.” He adds,
“The strongest man in the world … I don’t think they could deal with it if something happened to one of their kids. I just love my kids.”
In addition to Messiah, Allen and wife Tawanna are parents to Tiaura, 14, Allen II, 11, Isaiah, 6, and Dream, 16 months.