As Allen Iverson Searches for Answers, Does He Deserve Our Sympathy?

Mr. Jones and MeCorrespondent IMarch 9, 2010

CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 20: Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers is slow to get up after being hit in the face during a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on February 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the 76ers 122-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Allen Iverson is a broken man.


His four-year old daughter Messiah is suffering from an undisclosed, but believed to be serious, illness.


Tawanna Iverson, his wife of eight and a half years, recently filed for divorce and requested custody of their five children.


Tawanna is Allen’s childhood sweetheart, and the woman he spoke of when he told Stephen A. Smith, “I’d die for her, and die without her.”


Numerous NBA insiders, including Smith, are also claiming that Iverson is battling alcohol and gambling problems.


Smith recently wrote, “If numerous NBA sources are telling the truth—and there’s no reason to believe they’d do otherwise in a situation of this magnitude—Iverson will either drink himself into oblivion or gamble his life away.”


Should we feel bad for the man who once played and lived with such confidence that he was dubbed "The Answer"?


This is a man who has made some poor choices in his life, and he certainly needs to be held accountable for them. A man who has burnt more bridges over the years than any other athlete in memory. A man with one of the most tarnished public images in the world of sports.


However, does making some mistakes in your life disqualify you from compassion when the tragedies of life strike?


There will be some who will never be able to look beyond the brashness, the tattoos, and the infamous “practice” interview and realize that Iverson is a human being like you and me. And like all human beings he has emotions and feelings and is susceptible to pain and sadness when life goes awry.


On Monday night Iverson released the following statement on his Twitter account: “To my fans: You all know that my life isn’t perfect. I am going through some very tough times right now, like I am sure that we all do from time to time.”


I am not saying that Iverson isn’t at least partially responsible for the hardships he is currently facing, especially his troubles with gambling and alcohol and his marital problems. 


What I am saying is that his past shouldn’t dictate our reaction to the struggles he currently is facing. He certainly isn’t the first human being—or athlete, for that matter—to come against some of life’s more serious obstacles.


You don’t have to feel bad for Iverson, but you should at least show him some compassion.