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"You talk like a white boy"—Ray Allen opens up on growing up on a military base

Ray Allen admits being in an existential crisis when he turned 13 years old.
Ray Allen opens up on growing up in a military base

Allen shared the unique environment where he grew up early in his life

It’s always interesting to unpack the personal lives of the players we idolize. It’s riveting to discover how our heroes turned out how they are. Some grew up normally, while some were raised in a unique environment. One of the players who belong to the latter category is Ray Allen. It’s a little-known fact that one of the greatest shooters of all time grew up on a military base.

Air Force

In a letter addressed to his 13-year-old self, Allen shared the unique environment where he grew up early in his life. His father was a military man and was stationed on different bases: Northern California, Germany, Oklahoma, England, Southern California, and South Carolina.

Allen became used to always being the new kid on the block. In addition, Allen became aware that he spoke and acted differently than everyone else. Allen added that he got used to being the outsider. But things took a different turn when he turned 13 years old, which Allen described as a “critical age.”

“You spent your formative elementary school years in Britain. So you don’t even realize it, but to some people, you speak very proper. When you step off that school bus in South Carolina tomorrow and open your mouth, those kids are going to look at you like you’re an alien.

“You talk like a white boy,” they’ll say,” Allen wrote in The Players’ Tribune.

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Who am I?

Allen was entrenched in an existential crisis. He didn’t know who he was and his purpose. But just like most prospects who made it to the NBA, the basketball court served as his respite.

“I’m going to be 100% honest with you. I wish I could tell you that it will get easier, and that you’re going to blend in, and that it’s going to be alright. But you’re not going to fit in with the white kids, or the black kids … or the nerds … or even the jocks.”

What I want you to do is this: Go to the basketball court. Stay at the basketball court. You can build your entire existence there,” Allen wrote.

On the basketball court, Allen shared that he heard people from the stands say, “Ray’s jumpshot is God-given.” But the two-time champion only believed that his smooth jump shot resulted from hard work.

It was also on the basketball court he’ll meet legendary coach Jim Calhoun who put him in the “hardest workout of [his] life.”

It was on the hardcourt where Allen would win two championships with legends: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James, who, according to him, are very different from one another.

Safe to say that despite Allen’s unorthodox upbringing, he was able to live a fruitful life. Growing up on different military bases stiffened his upper lip. It also proved that his real home is on the basketball court. 

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