Iverson shows off his dunking ability for his mother, Ann, at a court in Hampton, Va. AI pieced together a sparkling career for Hampton's Bethel High, catching the eye of Georgetown's John Thompson, who offered him a scholarship.
Seemingly always a source of controversy, Iverson found himself entangled in legal issues in high school after being involved in an altercation at a bowling alley. He was convicted of a felony charge of maiming by mob, but was granted clemency four months later after a successful appeal.
Georgetown coach John Thompson talks things over with Iverson during a 1995 game. The young guard was a phenom during his two years with the Hoyas: earning the Big East Rookie of the Year honors, claiming two Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards and averaging a school-record 23.0 points per game.
Iverson blows past a helpless group of Texas Tech defenders during their Sweet 16 matchup with Georgetown in the 1996 NCAA Tournament. Iverson was brilliant -- spearheading a 98-90 Hoya victory -- to set up an Eastern Regional showdown with top-seeded UMass. The Hoyas didn't fare as well in that one, losing 86-62.
After his stellar stint at Georgetown, Iverson was selected with the first overall pick by the 76ers in the 1996 NBA draft. He quickly ascended to superstar status, averaging 23.5 points and 7.5 assists per game while earning the nickname "The Answer" during his rookie season.
The Sixers quickly embraced their prized rookie, who led the team in points, assists and minutes during a 22-60 campaign. Even on a bad team, Iverson forced the rest of the league to take notice. He won the Rookie of the Year Award.
Iverson elevates over Michael Jordan during the Sixers' 1998 upset of the defending-champion Bulls. It was a sign of things to come as he captured his first scoring title and was named to his first All-NBA team at season's end.
Iverson grasps his shoulder in pain while walking off the court during a December 2000 matchup with the New York Knicks. His arm was riddled with injuries throughout his prolific career, and many believe he started wearing a sleeve on his right arm to compensate for bursitis in his elbow. The sleeve soon became AI's distinctive look.
Iverson strikes a pose with his fellow Eastern Conference teammates during the NBA All-Star Weekend in 2001. Among a squad of superstars, Iverson shone the brightest -- scoring 15 points in the final nine minutes to earn All-Star Game MVP honors.
Always his biggest fan, Iverson's mother, Ann, roots for her son during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001. She had plenty to cheer about. Iverson contributed 15 points in Philly's 89-88 win; they clinched the series in seven games.
Iverson leaps to the basket around Shaquille O'Neal during Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals. Iverson wowed the Los Angeles crowd, racking up 48 points and six assists in the 76ers' overtime triumph. Philadelphia would drop the next four, and Iverson never returned to the Finals.
Holding his son, Deuce, and daughter, Tiara, Iverson speaks with the media after a Game 2 loss to the Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals. He was a force throughout the series, averaging 35.6 points per game but Shaq, Kobe and Co. defeated Philadelphia four games to one.
"We're not talking about a game. We're talking about practice." A constant source of media attention, Iverson addresses a throng of reporters during the 76ers' media day in 2001. His famous "practice" rant would come a year later.
Iverson greets Kobe Bryant before a contest at the Staples Center in 2001. The Lakers and the 76ers became very familiar with each other that year, as they faced off in the Finals. Iverson dropped a whopping 48 points in a Game 1 victory, but L.A. took the next four to win their second consecutive NBA title.
Bearing quite the resemblance to the Philadelphia standout, Iverson's Celebriduck was distributed to 5,000 children during the Sixers' showdown with the Spurs on Jan. 11, 2002. Iverson baffled San Antonio defenders all night, scoring 37 points amid a 101-84 rout.
Allen Iverson, Richard Sprague and Gregory Iverson
Iverson is depicted alongside his attorney, Richard Sprague, and uncle Gregory Iverson in a courtroom sketch for his hearing in 2002. Iverson was charged with breaking into an apartment while looking for his wife, though the charges were eventually dismissed.
Iverson and his USA teammates put on a disappointing showing in the 2004 Olympics, going 3-2 in group play en route to a bronze medal. The team knocked off Spain in the quarterfinals before losing to Argentina in the semis, marking the first time a team of U.S. professionals failed to capture the gold.
A Philadelphia icon, Iverson was traded to the Denver Nuggets after clashing with head coach Larry Brown and refusing to practice during the 2006 season. He averaged 24.8 ppg while leading Denver to a playoff appearance, but would be shipped to the Pistons in exchange for Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess just two years later.
Iverson and Denver teammate Carmelo Anthony (back) paint the walls at a New Orleans elementary school during the NBA's All-Star Day of Service in 2008. Iverson garnered his share of All-Star nods, making the team 11 consecutive times, beginning in 2000.
Acquired in a trade for guard Chauncey Billups and forward Antonio McDyess, Iverson joined the Pistons early in their 2008-09 campaign. He'd make 54 appearances for the team, averaging 17.4 points per game as they finished a pedestrian 39-43. It would be his only season in Detroit.
Quite the celebrity, Iverson poses with Snoop Dogg during a New Year's Eve bash in Hollywood in 2009. In addition to basketball, he tested his skills in the rap-world as well, recording the single "40 Bars" in the 2000 offseason. The NBA refused its release because of its controversial lyrics.
In September 2009, Iverson agreed to a one-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, proclaiming, "God chose Memphis as the place that I will continue my career." He didn't continue it for too long, as the contract was terminated after only three games due to Iverson's displeasure with his role coming off the bench. Iverson announced his retirement but soon thereafter re-signed with the 76ers. He appeared in 28 games but did not play again after taking a leave in late February.
After failing to draw interest on the NBA free-agent market, Iverson signed a two-year, $4 million deal with Turkish team Besiktas in October. His first season overseas was cut short by injury.
Photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images
Rare Photos of Allen Iverson
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