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Mama's Boys
Gary Smith
April 23, 2001
Two fiercely competitive small men in a big man's game, two sons of hardworking single moms—Allen Iverson and Larry Brown are so much alike that only their mothers could tell them apart...and bring them together.
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April 23, 2001

Mama's Boys

Two fiercely competitive small men in a big man's game, two sons of hardworking single moms—Allen Iverson and Larry Brown are so much alike that only their mothers could tell them apart...and bring them together.

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All his life, every day when I left for work in summer, I'd tell Bubba Chuck, "You watch your sister and be good. God see everything you do." And that's what came right back at me now. Allen said, "Mama, how can that be? If God see everything I do, why'm I gettin' charged with this?" My grandmother told him, "Don't question God," and he never complained a word after that.

That trial was the first time he wore a suit and tie. I made him wear one to court. He hates 'em now. They remind him of then. You can't expect guys who grew up like he did to be in a suit and tie.

He didn't cry when they took him off in handcuffs to jail. I didn't either—wasn't gonna let my son see that. But my tears got in my eyes after they took him. I cried every night he was in prison. Day he walked back through the door, we clenched so hard, I felt like I was goin' up to heaven.

He'd changed in jail. He'd seen the world right in front of his eyes, and he knew what people could do to you. But I liked the change. When he came out, he took no s—-.

******

Larry came out of the locker room ashen. It had been another one of those nights when his star had played as if he didn't understand that a team was a family.

He looked down the tunnel. There stood Allen, hugging and kissing his mother, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, childhood friends, old coaches and teachers—the reunion that awaited him after nearly every home game.

Larry turned to greet his own family. Allen's face lit up when he saw Larry's wife and two kids. He came over and gave Shelly a hug, L.J. a high five and Madison a squeeze.

Larry walked in silence to his car. He'd turned the pieces every which way. And still they never fit.

Milton left no estate. My sisters and brothers were always there for each other, but I hated being a burden. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to pay them back. At first we had to move in with my sister Cassie and her husband, Irving. Cassie lost four fingers in a bread-slicing machine. Oh, it was terrible. Irving was from Hungary and he was gorgeous, but he was so mean to the boys, so mean I had to move us out. We moved into the rooms above the new bakery my family opened. It was in Long Beach, on Long Island.

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