The first person I ever remember looking up to was the so-called “gangster“ Allen Iverson. It may have been because my middle name is Allen, or because he was “small” like I am, but the real reason was the heart and passion he played basketball with.. If you don't know his background, he did not always love basketball. His first love was football and his coaches said he was the best high school football player of all time.. His mom got him into basketball, forcing him to attend practices. During his senior year of high school, he leads his school to two state championships: football and basketball. Shortly after his second state championship, his world came crashing down as he was sentenced to 3 years in prison after a bowling alley brawl.. 6 months into his sentence, he was found innocent, and one coach, John Thompson of Georgetown University, took a chance on him.. Allen took full advantage of this opportunity, made the Big Ten first team, and after one year, decided to go to the NBA.. In the NBA, he really started to shine. He was the first pick in the 1996 NBA draft, won rookie of the year, and went on to win the MVP trophy in 2001. . Growing up, I had the opportunity to watch Allen play the Lakers at Staples Center 5 times. He always hustled the hardest on the court, risking his body for the team, and was the most exciting player I've ever seen. The way he attacked the basket regardless of his height was extraordinary, leaving it all on the court every night.. So why did I look up to him as a hero? He embodied everything I wanted to be. He did let his size or other people's opinions of him get in his way. He worked hard, feared nothing, and gave his all to his craft. All traits I dreamed to grow into and will continue to work on for the rest of my life.. As I grew up and realized the NBA wasn't in my future, I took the lesson learned from Allen and applied them in my career in software development. Keep your head down, be yourself, and work hard.. I'm so thankful I had Allen Iverson to look up to as a little guy. He showed me that size isn’t what matters, but the heart you put into whatever you do.. He showed me anything is possible as long and you work hard and take advantage of every chance you get.. One of my biggest goals in my life is to shake the hand of my childhood hero, so Allen, if you are out there, I would love to thank you for all you have done for me and so many other people out there.. Thank you for your service in the NBA and I hope you are enjoying a well-deserved retirement.