Allen Iverson was a revolutionary NBA player in his heyday. He served as a bridge between Michael Jordan’s dominant Bulls career and the onslaught of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and former teammate Carmelo Anthony. As the face of the NBA whether the league enjoyed it or not, he can thank Hampton, Virginia for getting him to where he was.
Iverson is a superstar in his own right. But the 757 — what locals call the area around Hampton — has been home to several famous athletes. Do you recognize these big names?
Growing up in Hampton, Iverson always felt a connection to the city. He was a high school phenom for Bethel High School, where he was not only a force to be reckoned with on the basketball court with his handles and speed, but on the football field, too.
According to the Undefeated, college scouts were clamoring for Iverson as he dominated the Virginia high school scene. All of this changed when the young athlete and his friends, all of them black, got into an altercation with an all-white group at a bowling alley.
The resulting legal fight cost Iverson his high-school career and immediate college prospects, as he received a five-year prison sentence. Luckily, the conviction was overturned in less than a year, he finished his high school education, and the rest of his basketball career is history.
In nearby Newport News, Virginia, Michael Vick grew up in an area that was, according to Biography.com, dominated by drugs and gang activity. As his parents tried to keep him out of trouble, Vick’s father allegedly gave him his first football. He never looked back.
Vick realized early on that he was faster than almost any defense, which impressed coaches and garnered interest from schools around the nation. Eventually, he ended up at Virginia Tech. While his professional career was filled with ups and downs, Vick became one of the biggest names in football.
Aaron Brooks, who spent eight years in the NFL between the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Oakland Raiders, may not have been a big name in the way Iverson or Vick were. But he was a major figure in the local sports scene in Hampton.
Brooks was the Saints’ leading passer historically until Brees shattered the records. Now, he sees himself as an inspiration for the next generation to make the best of their situation and reach their goals.
When Ronald Curry was in high school, he was a two-sport wonder, like Iverson. Not only did he dominate on the football field — eventually having a seven-year NFL career, but many believed he had an NBA-caliber career.
Curry did, after all, make it all the way to the legendary North Carolina basketball program. Football won out, however, and while Curry was well-known, injuries cut his career short.
Representing the 757
From Iverson to Curry, the 757 produced athletes at a clip that most areas could not dream of. Whether it is the hard work of the locals or the drive to get out of a tough environment, several young athletes reached their ultimate goals while never forgetting their roots.